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Beowulf (Christianity vs. Paganism)
Christianity vs. Paganism
In the story of Beowulf, there is a noticeable struggle between Christianity and Paganism, and the characters personal battle between the two. Throughout the story the characters display actions that lead towards Paganism and Christianity. Contrary to Pagan belief Beowulf is seen as the epitome of good and beneficent to all of mankind. In Beowulf, the people showed their faith and love in God, however due to horrific events, paranoia caused them to look for a quick fix and turns them to Paganism.
The pagan elements in the epic poem Beowulf are evident in the characters superhuman personifications. Beowulf is depicted as a superhero. Beowulf takes it upon himself to save the Danes from Grendel. In his battle with Grendel, Beowulf chooses not to use weapons; he relies on his super strength. During the fight, Beowulf's strength takes over, and Beowulf wrestles with Grendel until he is able to rip one of the monster's arms out of its socket. Superhuman feats also appear in the fight with Grendel's mother. When Beowulf enters the water, he swims, without the use of oxygen, downward for an entire day before he sees the bottom. During the battle with Grendel's mother, Beowulf realizes that Unferth's sword is useless against the monsters thick skin. He grabs an enormous sword made by giants, almost too heavy to hold, and slashes through the monster's body. This superhero strength continues into the battle with the dragon. By this time Beowulf is an old man. He decides that he must avenge his people and fight the dragon. Although Beowulf is fatally wounded himself, he still manages to deliver the final blow that kills the dragon. Grendel is also seen as a superhuman monster. Grendel has no knowledge of weapons, so he, too, depends on his extraordinary strength to destroy his enemies. The dragon is also seen as a super-powerful adversary. The dragon in Beowulf spits fire with such intense heat that it melts Beowulf's shield to his body. The author has exalted the fights with fabled monsters into a conflict between the powers of good and evil. These battles are examples of epic folklore during pagan times.
While many pagan influences appear in the poem, Christian overtones dominate. Many of the characters exhibit Christian characteristics. Beowulf has a Christ-like behavior in his good-heartedness and charity. Beowulf understands the plight of the Danes that are being oppressed by the evil monster Grendel just as Christ knew of the oppression of the Jewish people. Both set out on a venture to save their people. To free themselves from the monster, the Danes need a savior, and Beowulf, through his desire to disperse their suffering, comes to save them. When Beowulf battles Grendel, he exhibits a sense of fairness when he refuses to use a weapon. The idea throughout the poem of living right, of loyalty, and of being a good leader can all be seen as traits of Christ. Just as Beowulf exemplifies Christ, Grendel mirrors Satan. Beowulf and Grendel represent the Christian beliefs of good verse evil. Grendel is referred to as a descendant of Cain, whom Satan tricks into sinning and committing the first murder. He is the image of a man fallen from grace through sin. Like Satan who is jealous of the happiness and joy that Adam and Eve have in the Garden of Eden, Grendel is jealous of the happiness and joy in Heorot. Grendel, as with Satan, is an adversary of God and poses a great challenge to Beowulf. Grendel lives in an underworld as Satan lives in hell. Grendel is referred to in the poem as "the guardian of sins".
In conclusion, the author of Beowulf was very effective in combining pagan and Christian ideas in his poem. The technique of combining two different ideals made the poem Beowulf very interesting to read. In mixing Christian and pagan ideas, the poet of Beowulf was able to emphasize the morals of his time and to enhance his characters with Christian values and pagan legends.
Find essay on Beowulf And Grendel
Beowulf (mrs. Howell)
Explain to someone who has not read the poem why Beowulf would risk a hazardous ocean voyage to battle an unknown beast foe a distant king. In outlining your paper, plan for at least three paragraphs, one each devoted to Beowulfs ideas about honor, fame, and courage. Scan his speeches in the first part of the peon to find what he has to say about these values and use short quotations form the text to illustrate you explanation. See the Writing Process in the Composition Handbook.
Background: the Story Beowulf is an Epic poem written in the Anglo-Saxon period. The author of the poem is unknown. Beowulf is the hero of the story and the Thane to Hygelac the king of the Geats in Sweden. When Beowulf finds out the Grendel (the big guy) is causing problems in Denmark he decides to go over there and help them out. He fights Grendel and everyone is happy. Then Grendels mother comes to avenge her son so Beowulf has to go fight her also. After winning that battle Beowulf goes back to the Geats and becomes king and rules for fifty winters. Everything is good until he has to go fight this dragon. The dragon ends up killing Beowulf. In the story you can see how things like Honor, fame, and Courage are associated with Beowulf. The reason that he take the dangerous journey is to gain all there of those characteristics in his journey. Out lines below is how he gets each one of those traits in the story.
Honor: Before Beowulfs journey a man named Unfert taunts Beowulf and brings up how when they were little kid they had a competition to see who could swim the farthest and Beowulf kept swimming even though he was being attacked by monsters. In lines 397-400 with plowing shoulders parted the waves, the sea-flood boiled with its winter surges seven nights was the greater, his swimming the stronger! Basically this guy Unfert was trying to make fun of Beowulf, and Beowulf defended his honor by bringing up how he beat him in the swimming competition. Honor is important to Beowulf because he works hard for what he has accomplished and doesnt want some guys just making fun of him.
Fame: This whole story is about how famous Beowulf is. The on thing that sticks out in my mind though would be fighting Grendel with out any weapons or armor. Grendel couldnt be effected by the weapons but armor would of helped Beowulf. Armor would of protected him if Grendel would of stuck him with a blow or something. This is found in lines 501-504 He stripped from his shoulders the bryny of steel, doffed his helmet from head; into hand of thane gave iron, the best of blades; bade him keep well the weapons of war. Basically they just said Beowulf just took off all his armor and weapons that have kept him safe in war. He knows if he wins with out any of his armor he will look even more like a B.A in front of all these people.
Courage: Last but not least is Beowulfs fame. Him fighting Grendel without armor is pretty courageous, but there is more cool acts of courage that he accomplishes. After Grendel dies his mom comes back to kill Beowulf. She ends up running away and Beowulf chases her, her lair is at the bottom of the ocean (kind of like when superman loses his power to marry a chick) well to get to the lair you have to swim through a ton of sea monsters. the swimming forms of strange sea-dragons dim serpent shapes in the water depths, lines 937-938. Thats what Beowulf had to dive into. Lines 960-961 a Gleaming helmet guarded his head as he planned his plunge to the depths of the pool that means he jumped into all these huge sea monsters to go fight someone that wasnt even wrecking his village. He didnt even have to jump in there but he did because he is awesome and he doesnt have to do it. Thats why Beowulf is so courageous
So as you can see Beowulf has many of ... more
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