Mythological Influence On Beowulf

1735 Words7 Pages
The Mythological Influences of Beowulf on The Lord of the Rings
It was not by chance in the way which Tolkien has infused his Lengendarium with the flavorings of myth and legend. Tolkien’s childhood and early writings were steeped with the learnings of primeval languages and Middle English myths. Tolkien’s interest in the languages of Old-English cultures would drive Tolkien to delve deeply into the realm of poetry and myth in pursuit of his passion for understanding the languages of those cultures. When Tolkien was 23 Years old, he had already learned Greek, Latin, Anglo Saxon, Old English, Finnish, Welsh and Gothic, a budding philologist even prior to becoming a professor of the Anglo-Saxon language at Oxford (Carpenter 56). As if the triumph
…show more content…
Reviewing Tolkien’s writings, specifically that of Beowulf, the understanding of Tolkien’s value regarding myths within his writings becomes evident. Tolkien noted in an essay tilted Beowulf: Monsters and the Critics that “Beowulf is in fact so interesting as poetry, in places poetry so powerful, that this quite overshadows the historical content, and is largely independent even of the most important facts (such as the date and identity of Hygelac) that research has discovered” (“Beowulf: Monsters” 105). Tolkien would note that Beowulf was originally read only by scholars wishing to find historical facts from the myth and found no value in it as a whole. Tolkien would also find that Beowulf’s actual importance could be found in its storytelling. While the poem Beowulf is littered with historical facts it ultimately represents the thoughts and fears of a culture that are no longer present within the world. Also worth noting is that the poet who wrote Beowulf did not write the poem from a first hand perspective but as someone who grew up hearing tales of monsters and heroes, a person who straddled an era of history in which pagan traditions were fading, but not entirely absent, to a new Christian religion. Fact and physical artifacts may tell that a man once existed in a land but it can tell nothing of how that man felt, myth however…show more content…
Beowulf’s final words after his deadly battle with a Dragon was that “all hath fate swept away of my kinsfolk to their appointed doom, good men of valor – I must follow them!” (Tolkien “Beowulf” 95). Beowulf would now, at the conclusion of his time on earth, acknowledges that fate has been a controlling aspect over the outcome of his life and that he was merely a ship adrift on its tides. So too may it be found that within The Lord of the Rings that fate has come to play an important role upon Middle Earths inhabitants. Frodo would question Gandalf on the peculiar circumstances upon which Bilbo came to inherit the Ring in which Gandalf retorted “that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-Maker. I can put it no planer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and Not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it” (Tolkien 56). To solidify the notion of fates impact upon The Lord of the Rings further, Gandalf also alludes to fates existence once more wherein he states, “I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fat of many –yours [Frodo] not least” (Tolkien “Lord” 59). Margaret

More about Mythological Influence On Beowulf

Open Document