In the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, there is plenty of controversy over whether or not the poem was considered Christian or Pagan. It is understandable that there may be both themes seen throughout this particular work. Beowulf is referred to as a very outstanding piece of British literature during the eighteenth century. Although re-written in the eleventh century, Anglo-Saxon themes represented the ideals of Christianity in a more virtuous, and outright manner. Whereas, in Beowulf, the author makes use of many purposeful situations that lead readers to consider the intentions and major themes that they considered rare at the time. I will discuss how both of these ideologies are seen within this poem, and how Beowulf is a pagan story with undeniable
In Beowulf he is not interested in being Christian or following the Christian morals, Beowulf is stuck in between his Christian backbone to help the people and his selfish prize of paganism. Even though he wants respect from Christians he has a passion and drive for fighting.
Beowulf is an archetypal character within a legendary piece of text. He embodies the conglomerate of many Anglo Saxon values expressed throughout his heroic journey. Contrived by the mighty Northern Anglo Saxons, Beowulf is the manifestation of the Anglo Saxon ideals. This work of art helps us identify and analyze Beowulf’s ideals in a way that lets us deduce the values of the Anglo Saxon society. Examination of this poem lets us familiarize ourselves about a society obsessed with religion, vengeance and war-lust beings. They idolized the warrior code, an abundance of warrior like traits that portrayed you as noble as can be, a fundamental aspect of life for the Anglo Saxons. So let us leap into the fabric of time and take a peek into the Anglo Saxon civilization.
The audience will agree that Beowulf is a warrior of generosity, courage, and hospitality which practically defines the Anglo-Saxon heroic code. However, the audience will realize that he is a man of God if they reflect upon his reason which ensures those values. It is understood that Beowulf is as selfless as they come during a time of fear and despair. Beowulf contains an undisclosed characteristic known as fear and employs the courage required to defeat the demons that people have become apprehended to. Of course, others would argue that Beowulf is simply a new follower of Christ and that his morals fall along the lines of Paganism.
He has true honor and respectfully distributes treasure and gifts to those whom he believes rightfully deserves them. Beowulf’s loyalty to the Danes helps shed light on his true character. He expresses that he believes he may die in battle between Grendel, but that does not dissuade him from fighting the beast. Another example is when Hygelac dies, Beowulf is asked to take the throne. In doing so, that would mean the the son of Hygelac would be stripped of his own inheritance, which is dishonorable in Beowulf’s eyes, and thus he declines the offer.
Beowulf, the oldest surviving epic poem, has been recognized as one of the most important works of Old English literature. It deals with battles, warrior culture, and redemption in a Germanic society. Many writers have analyzed the relationship between Christianity and Paganism in Beowulf, and how these were a depiction of an early medieval Scandinavian society. J. R. R. Tolkien, renowned author of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, presented his view on the Pagan and Christian elements found in early medieval societies, as shown in the poem Beowulf. Tolkien explained that the poem shows “the nearness of a pagan time,” and with it “the shadow of its despair, as an intense emotion of regret” is conveyed throughout the poem (Tolkien).
In the epic poem Beowulf, the protagonist, Beowulf, faces three “monsters” at different times in his life. The poem begins with Grendel, a monster who attacks only in the dark of night, tormenting the kingdom of Hrothgar. The last two sections of the epic detail the conquering by Beowulf of Grendel’s mother and the dragon. The battle between the monsters and Beowulf represent the theme of good versus evil in the poem, as well as the fusion of pagan and Christian ideals in the changing Germanic society. Grendel’s mother’s actions directly juxtapose the role of a woman in this time period, and the greediness of the dragon with his treasure contrasts with the virtues of what would be considered a good king.
Because of his choice to not trust in God, Beowulf ends up dying, but he is still not aware of his mistake, (Death ln 160-161). God could not let him continue life with His blessing upon him if Beowulf could not keep his faith in God. This ends up being his fatal mistake that results in his death. Through the epic Beowulf, the reader realizes the author’s use of paganism and christianity is to reflect the idea that putting faith in worldly things and not putting faith in God leads to a person’s ultimate demise.
Furthermore, Beowulf’s death and the downfall of his people highlight the destruction caused by excessive pride. After defeating Grendel and his mother, Beowulf , the warrior, earns a name for himself and eventually rules as the warrior king of the Geats for 50 years. Yet at the end of the poem, Beowulf, similarly to Grendel, lets his insatiable greed consume him. His self-centered desire to gain and maintain fame and glory overrides his duties as a leader of his people, the Geats, and causes him to become irrational. He irrationally decides to battle with the dragon that was causing mayhem in his kingdom alone.
With ancient understandings and tales in the early times, Beowulf sings of times long forgotten, the times where the only tombs men sought was the battlefield, and their legacies, glory from the most extraordinary of feats. Eras filled with monsters, demons and selfless devotion towards the Glory of God. Even the flamboyant stories from the early centuries, still ring with connections to our world today, that our
Beowulf didn’t want to fight this battle, the battle of the dragon. He then decided to because he wanted the treasure for winning the battle. Coming into this battle, Beowulf uttered “, I’ve never known fear, as a youth I fought endless battles. I am old now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, If the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me.” Pg.56
As king, Beowulf stepped up and fought the malevolent dragon in his last battle. In his last boast he uttered, “ I’ve never known fear, as a youth, I fought endless battles. I am old, now, but I will fight again, seek fame still, if the dragon hiding in his tower dares to face me.” (62). Beowulf was very confident for the circumstances.
There have been epic stories about saints and fearless pioneers who bring down shrewdness and convey peace to the general population in which they reside, Beowulf follows this traditional concept. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is the most essential work of Old English writing. The epic recounts the account of a saint, a sovereign named Beowulf, who frees the Danes of the beast Grendel and recounts his brave demonstrations battling Grendel 's mom. All through the epic, the Anglo-Saxon story teller utilizes numerous components to construct profundity to the characters. Only a couple of the essential character components in Beowulf are Wealth and Honor, Biblical, and Man versus Wild topics.
Critically assess the extent of Christian and Latinate influence on Beowulf. When first reading Beowulf it would appear that the Christian references within it superimpose onto the essentially pagan view that makes a huge body of the poem. Therefore, within this assignment, there will be investigations of inconsistencies. Sources clearly show that Beowulf was written by Germanic pagans that had been debauched by some leftist ecclesiastic wordsmith , to the insistence that the author designedly created the Christian allegory along the lines of Book 1 of The Faerie Queen. It is know that Germanic traditions and techniques were used by Anglo-Saxons to frame Christian literature, just as it was with the poet of Beowulf.