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Beowulf Its Roots In Christianity And Paganism.

1196 words - 5 pages

Beowulf was written in England sometime in the 8th century. This provides us with an idea that the poem that was written during a time when the society was in the process of converting from paganism to Christianity. When cultures are converting to a new lifestyle, such as Christianity, there are always people who resist the change. This causes the culture to never fully abandon their former faith. The Anglo-Saxons were no different. The Christian influences were combined with early folklore and heroic legends of German tribes. We now try to look at whether or not Christian and biblical influences were added later to originally pagan poem or not. The fact that Christianity and Paganism are so closely intertwined in the poem is the reason Beowulf has both Christian and pagan influences.The pagan elements in the epic poem Beowulf are evident in the characters Epic-hero personifications. Beowulf is depicted as a superhero. Not only does Beowulf take it upon himself to save the Danes from Grendel, for his battle with Grendel he decides to "forgo the sword"; he relies on his intense warrior skills and the help of the "wise God, Holy Lord". 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. Extreme feats also emerge in the battle with Grendel's mother. When Beowulf dives into the water, he swims, without the use of oxygen, downward for a nearly day before he sees the bottom. During the battle with Grendel's mother, Beowulf finds that Unferth's sword is useless against the monster. He then proceeds to wrestle this huge monster, underwater because "he trusted in his strength, his mighty hand-grip." He grabs "an old sword made by the giants . . . glory of warriors" and slashes through the monster's body. This superhero strength continues into the battle with the dragon. Even though 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. As Beowulf was seen as an extraordinary hero, the dragon is also seen as a super-powerful adversary. As in most pagan stories, the dragon is a much-used enemy of the hero of the story. 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.Also, in the poem Beowulf partakes in many non-Christian deeds. He drinks a lot and has a tendency to kill people and creatures. Beowulf also cares more about being remembered and getting treasure more that doing a deed for the charity of it. The fact that he wished to be cremated also suggests that he is a pagan.While many pagan influences appear in the poem, Christian overtones dominate. Many of the characters exhibit...

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