Beowulf: Pagan Or Christian? Essay

1006 words - 5 pages

Beowulf was written around 700 A.D. by an unknown author. While it is a part of English Literature, it does not take place in England. Instead, it tells the reader events that happened in Sweden and on the Danish island of Zealand. The pagan and Christian references suggest that the poem is most likely written about the time that the Anglo-Saxon society was converting from paganism to Christianity. Monasteries provided a place for learning and they also saved some of the manuscripts, such as the story Beowulf. Christianity does eventually replace pagan religion as far as Anglo-Saxons are concerned. Although the unknown author of Beowulf develops the main protagonist to represent both ...view middle of the document...

Otherwise the family can kill the murderer.
When Beowulf is just about to get up and fight Grendel, who is called the spawn of Cain (Cain is the first murderer in the Bible) in lines 19-21, the poem says of Grendel, "Now he discovered - once the afflictor/Of men, tormentor of their days - What it meant/To feud with the Almighty God." (l. 490-93). In those lines, Beowulf is compared to the Almighty God. After killing Grendel, the poem says,"...Beowulf, A prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel,/Ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering/Forced on Hrothgar's helpless people/By a bloodthirsty fiend," in lines 510-14. These lines are comparing Beowulf to Jesus in the Bible when he died on the cross to end grief, sorrow, and suffering. Essentially, what the poem is saying is that Beowulf is a savior! After killing Grendel, Beowulf dives into the lake where Grendel and his mother live. In the poem the lake is described as a "watery hell." When Beowulf starts to loose his strength after sinking for several hours, he discovers that he is surrounded by a light. That symbolizes that Beowulf is in God's favor and he will not die at that time. Every time Beowulf has success at a battle, he attributes the success to God. It is shown in lines 803-07 where he tells Wiglaf as he is dying, "For this, this gold, these jewels, I thank/Our Father in Heaven, Ruler of the Earth-/For all of this, that His grace has given me,/Allowed me to bring to my people while breath/Still came to my lips. I sold my life,/and I sold it well."
Knowing the pagan and Christian sides to this story, we can see conflict. Christians most certainly believe in an afterlife, and they believe one does not have to be famous...

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