The tragic story of Peter Grimes revolves around the tormented title character, a fisherman who finds himself shunned by the rest of his small village. At once the protagonist and the anti-hero, Grimes is gruff and unpopular, but the character is crafted with a certain degree of ambiguity so the audience constantly questions whether he is truly a good or bad person. His former apprentice died at sea, and although Grimes was cleared of any wrongdoing, the village still believes that he was responsible and are ever suspicious of him. Despite being warned against doing so by the court, Grimes takes on a new apprentice, though he is constantly haunted by the guilt of the other boy’s death. Despite the help of the town schoolmistress, Ellen, who plans to marry Grimes and try to create a better life for him, the new apprentice himself meets a tragic end. The borough, convinced that Grimes is a murderer, condemns him. Descending further and further into madness as the mob approaches, Grimes sails his boat out to sea to sink it, never to return.
Peter Grimes guide sections