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Epic Of Beowulf Essay

1389 words - 6 pages

Beowulf, the national epic of England, was passed down from generation to generation tells the legend of a mighty hero. This folk epic portrays the ideas of 16th century Anglo-Saxon culture until the early 8th century when a monk transcribed it into written form. Housed in the British Museum, the manuscript is considered to be a historical document as well as a great piece of literature. This tale narrates a story about a man who saves two nations from terrible beings which embody evil. Beowulf contains many themes such as the fantasy of supernatural creatures and the role of woman. However, the main focus of this tale presents both Christian and Pagan ideals. While the epic shows evidence of patristic influences, it more clearly depicts ideals associated with pagan culture and society.
Beowulf blends patristic references into a pagan narrative that previously focused only on Anglo-Saxon ideals. For 12 years, king Hrothgar has suffered at the hands of the terrible monster Grendel, who no man has been able to kill. However, when the mighty monster slayer Beowulf hears of Hrothgar’s plight, he at once goes forward to put an end to Grendel. Soon after they received fervent greetings on the Danish coast, the men prepare for the night, and Beowulf realizes that “God in His wisdom must allot the victory as He thinks fit” (43). Beowulf knows that he serves God, the resolver of all problems. The monks who altered the story taught that the pagan god Wyrd does not exist but merely acts as a capability of God. By getting rid of the main pagan god, the monks show God’s almighty power and his ability to control good and evil and decide right from wrong. All evil beings exist because they battled against God and lost; and for rebelling, they received punishment. The fen demons of the Danish land all descend from Cain, who opposed God and “for this crime Cain had been outlawed, branded a murderer, and made to relinquish human happiness for a lodging in the wilderness” (57). God banished Cain and his descendants from his love forever and for that, the evildoers hate mankind who still hold favor with God. The exile of Cain makes Grendel God’s enemy, and by killing Grendel, Beowulf gains favor from God. This patristic message can be interpreted to show that by adhering to the church, God will hold man in his heart forever. After killing Grendel, Beowulf goes to finish what he started and kill Grendel’s mother, who in a mad fury has killed one of Hrothgar’s most beloved advisors. When they fight, she would have killed him were it not for God’s power and a mighty sword inscribed with the biblical tale of how “the swirling waters of the flood destroyed the giant race, they suffered sorely; because they were hostile to God” (66). Even when men fail, the power of God will see them through. This sword predicts what will happen to Grendel’s mother and the reason for her demise. A blessed sword and the only weapon which could kill Grendel’s mother. ...

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