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Pagan Versus Christian Essay

1126 words - 5 pages

Beowulf is the first great English literature. Beowulf was written around A.D. 700 by an anonymous Christian monk. One of the essential concerns of this epic poem is whether or not it is of pagan or Christian origin, or whether it has pagan or Christian influences. The unknown author was undoubtedly a Christian, but also knows just as much about paganism. Paganism and Christianity clash and merge in this poem. Furthermore Beowulf viewed as explicitly Christian or pagan literature, the text represents some of both religions throughout this poem. It is hard to ignore the Christian and pagan elements in Beowulf. Pagan and Christian fusing is a strong element of the early Anglo-Saxon poem. ...view middle of the document...

However he does know not to touch the throne. Herot hall is a light in a dark world. Herot hall is made of ivory, iron, wood, and board with pure golf that shines when the sun hits it. Throughout all the darkness surrounding Herot hall it brought hope that one day things could return to the way they were. Hrothgar’s men had built Herot hall “to stand forever; only fire” (l. 461). Therefor only the devil could tear down Herot hall, Grendel could not harm it. Grendel lived in a dark place, near a lake. “... At night the lake burns like a torch. No one knows its bottom, no wisdom reaches such depths...” (l. 552-54). The lake that Grendel lives near is a very dark place. If someone were to jump into it they would die. It is seen as hell but on earth. It states in lines 590 the heat could not touch Beowulf “and there the water’s heat could not hurt him.” Beowulf was safe from the lake, just like jesus is safe from Hell. These are only some of the many reference, elements, and qualities of Christianity throughout this epic poem.
Paganism is about fame, fate, and vengeance, and these are highly evident in this poem. Although there is many Christian references there are just as many pagan references. The first pagan reference in this poem is describing a monster or form of evil. “Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend, Grendel, who haunted the moors, the wild marshes, and made his home in a hell not hell but earth...” (l. 16-19). It is a pagan belief about monsters. Monsters to them were like the devil to Christians. The heathens knew nothing about God, His glory, nor the Lord of Heaven and earth. Lines 91-96 state “Made heathen vows, hoping for hell’s support, the Devil’s guidance in driving their affliction off. That was their way, and the heathen’s only hope, Hell always in their hearts....” There is a very dark side to paganism, they believe in fate and fame, but also in vengeances, monsters, and powers. In lines 484 and 485 it states “had bewitched all men’s weapons, laid spells that blunted every mortal man’s blade.” Therefor not only is Grendel a monster but...

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