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Literary Influence: From Paganism To Christianity Comparison Between The Dream Of The Rood, Beowulf, And Religious Texts

2093 words - 8 pages

Amanda NunezMr. MartinezEnglish IV- Block 103 December 2013Literary Influence: From Paganism to ChristianityDuring an era when concepts that strayed from the norm were often dejected, the notion of Christianity was not yet an established belief. However, through transitional pieces such as The Dream of the Rood and Beowulf, individuals were able to be eased into accepting this foreign concept and begin a new age of spiritual belief. Both of these texts were masked by heroic tales, yet their underlying message is one that seems to mirror a major religious text- The Nicene Creed. Through careful examination, it is evident that these literary works share a similar structure to The Nicene Creed, and therefore were able to provide Anglo-Saxon people with an insight into Christianity without overwhelming them with new ideas. The authors of these texts achieved this purpose by presenting to the population of this time area the profession of Christian faith, concealed by a story that they were likely to enjoy listening to. Through this strategy employed, Pagan Anglo-Saxons were able to truly grasp the underlying principles of this new religion and ultimately accept these beliefs as their own.Historical ContextIt is important to first understand the characteristics that defined Anglo-Saxons in order to fully comprehend how the two texts impacted this group in a compelling manner. The Anglo-Saxons were a war-glorifying group of individuals who believed that strength and brutality resulted in the best heroes (Ross). They were quick to follow a leader that showed these standard characteristics, as they felt the desire to be constantly guided by someone. Because they so often had brave yet harsh leaders, many dynasties came and went rapidly and these people looked to greater entities as important leaders (Ross). Paganism was a polytheistic religion, meaning that it was centered around multiple gods, many of which were robust and mighty, as the Anglo-Saxons honored them to be (Ross). They were not used to a gentle, kind-hearted leader, and were therefore hesitant of Christ as they compared his description to their own rulers and gods. This group of people also enjoyed listening to poetry or ballads being recited, and sought this art out as a major form of entertainment (Ross). Because of this, authors such as those responsible for the two texts in discussion utilized stories as a way to make commentaries that would hopefully be conveyed to their audiences.Major DivisionsThe structure of both the Dream of the Rood and Beowulf mirror that of the Nicene Creed, being that all three texts show four major divisions: the creation of the holy being, the period of suffrage Christ must endure, the obstacles he overcomes, and his death and resurrection.The first division depicting how the Holy Son came to be is seen both in The Dream of the Rood as well as Beowulf. In the Dream of the Rood, the similarity in structure is very obviously visible to readers, being that this...

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