Christian Elementss In Beowulf Essay, Research Paper
Christian Elementss in Beowulf
The praised heroic poem verse form, Beowulf, is the first great heroic verse form in English
literature. The heroic poem follows a brave warrior named Beowulf throughout his immature,
grownup life and into his old age. As a immature adult male, Beowulf becomes a legendary hero when
he saves the land of the Danes from the beastly animals, Grendel and his female parent. Later,
after 50 old ages base on balls, Beowulf is an old adult male and a great male monarch of the Geats. A monstrous
firedrake shortly invades his peaceable land and he defends his people bravely, deceasing
in the procedure. His organic structure is burned and his ashes are placed in a cave by the sea. By
puting his ashes in the seaboard cave, people go throughing by will ever retrieve the
legendary hero and male monarch, Beowulf. In this recognized heroic poem, Beowulf, is abound in
supernatural elements of heathen associations ; nevertheless, the verse form is the antonym of heathen
brutality. The presentation of the narrative stating moves fluidly within Christian
milieus every bit good as heathen ideals.
Beowulf was a recited heathen folklore where the people of that clip period
believed in Gods, goddesses, and monsters. It? s significance lies in an unwritten history where
people memorized long, heavy lines of boring poetry. Subsequently, when a written tradition was
introduced they began to compose the narrative down on tablets.
The old narrative was non first told or invented by the normally known, Beowulf poet.
This is clear from probes of the common people traditional knowledge parallels. The manuscript was written
by two Scribes around AD 1000 in late West Saxon, the literary idiom of that period. It
is believed that the Scribes who put the old stuffs together into their present signifier
were Christians and that his verse form reflects a Christian tradition. The first Scribe copied
three prose pieces and the first 1,939 lines of Beowulf while the 2nd Scribe copied the
remainder of Beowulf and Judith. In 1731, a fire swept through the Cottonian Library,
damaging many books and searing the Beowulf codex. In 1786-87, after the
manuscript had been deposited in the British Museum the Icelander, Grinur Jonsson
Thorkelin, made two written texts of the verse form for what was to be the first edition, in
1815 ( Clark, 112-15 ) .
Beowulf is a mixture of heathen and Christian attitudes. Heathen patterns are
mentioned in several topographic points, such as vowing of forfeits at idol fanes, the observing of
portents, the combustion of the dead, which was frowned upon by the church. The frequent
allusions to the power of destiny, the motivation of blood retaliation, and the congratulations of worldly
glorification bear testimony to the ancient background of heathen constructs and ideals.
However, the general tone of the heroic poem and its ethical point of view are preponderantly
Christian. There is no longer a echt heathen atmosphere. The sentiment has been
softened and purified. The virtuousnesss of moderateness, unselfishness, consideration for others
are practiced and appreciated. Beowulf is a Christian reworking of a heathen verse form with? a
twine of heathen ballads edited by monastics ; it is the work of a learned but inaccurate Christian
antiquarian? ( Clark, 112 ) .
The writer has reasonably exhaulted the battles with Grendel, his female parent, and the
firedrake into a struggle between powers of good and evil. The figure of Grendel, while
originally an ordinary Norse troll is conceived as an caricature of immorality and
darkness, even an embodiment of the Christian Satan. Grendel is a member of the race of
Cain, from whom all? misshapen and unnatural things were spawned? ( Kermode, 42 )
such as monsters and elves. He is a animal home in the outer darkness, a elephantine and
man-eater. When he crawls off to decease, he is said to fall in the path of Satans in snake pit. The
narrative of a race of diabolic monsters and giants descended from Cain. It came organize a
tradition established by the apocryphal Book of Enoch and early Judaic and Christian
readings of Genesis 6:4, ? There were giants in the Earth in those yearss, and besides
subsequently, when the boies of God had dealingss with the girls of work forces, who bore
kids to them? ( Holland Crossley, 15 ) .
Many of Grendel? s denominations are unquestionable names of Satan such as
? enemy of world, ? ? God? s antagonist, ? ? the Satan in snake pit, ? and? the snake pit slave. ? His
actions are represented in a mode proposing the behavior of the evil one, and he dwells
with his female parent in a mere which conjures visions of snake pit.
The word picture of the mere is the most singular because it is a conceptual
landscape made fearsomely realistic by the poesy. The closest analogue with Grendel and
his female parent? s mere is from the vision of snake pit in sermon 17 of the 10th century Blickling
Homilies. This scene is based on the apocryphal vision of St. Paul, where the saint visits
snake pit under the protection of St. Michael. The similarities to the mere are italicized:
? But now allow us inquire the archangel St. Michael and the nine
orders of sanctum angels that they be a aid to us against
hell-fiends. They were the holy 1s that receive work forces? s
psyches. Therefore St. Paul was looking toward the northern portion
of this middle-earth, where all the Waterss go down under,
and there he saw a grey rock over that H2O, and north
of that rock the forests had grown really frigid, and at that place
were dark mists, and under that rock was the home of
neighs and outlawed animals. And he saw that on that
drop many black psyches were hanging on the icy trees with
their custodies bound, and the Satans in the similitude of neighs
were prehending them as does the greedy wolf, and the H2O
was black underneath the drop. And between the drop and
the H2O there was the distance of 12 stat mis, and when
the subdivisions broke off so souls that were hanging on the
subdivisions plunged downward, and the neighs seized them.
These, so, were the psyches of those who here in this universe
had sinned unrighteously and would non atone of it before
their life? s terminal. But allow us now seriously ask St. Michael
that he take our psyches into cloud nine, where they may joy in
infinity without terminal. Amons? ( Morris, 209-11 ) .
These singular verbal analogues show that the landscape of the mere symbolizes
snake pit. It is a garden of immorality, in which one of the race of Cain dwells in stop deading wickedness. The
psyche that avoids these dark Waterss is based on Psalm 42, ? As the Hart bloomerss after the
running watercourses, so my psyche calls aloud to Thee, O God. ? The psyche would instead
conceal his caput in the mere, merely as any rational psyche would prefer decease to eternal
Beowulf? s last monstrous enemy is designated by the word? wyrm? intending a
snake or worm, and the word? draca? intending firedrake. In the Old English poesy, the
worm and firedrake represent hostility to mankind. The worms who devour adult male? s cadaver
after decease, the firedrakes and snakes who receive his psyche in snake pit, and the firedrake of wickedness
and mortality who regulations over Earth until Christ naturals for all clip the work of the
The Grendel family and the firedrake portion some of the descriptive words and names
used for monsters in the verse form such as? killer, ? ? enemy, ? and? evil destroyer. ? They all
live in diabolic halls. Some poets believe that the firedrake was? the Satan himself,
guarding a cache of gold that infects work forces with greed and pride and so leads to decease and
damnation? ( Clark, 257 ) . The Beowulf firedrake is sufficiently serpentine, both in his
visual aspect and behaviour, to measure up as a Christian symbol. In Genesis of the Bible, the
snake is ne’er clearly called Satan. The serpent is an fable for the devil much like the
firedrake is an fable for the archfiend.
But if the firedrake is of the same sort as Grendel, why was Beowulf unable to
licking him? To this inquiry the Christian reading is that Beowulf has lost the
favour of God. However, the firedrake is the instrument of Beowulf? s decease. As J.R.R.
Tolkien explains, ? the placing of the firedrake is inevitable: a adult male can but decease upon his
decease twenty-four hours? ( Holland-Crossley, 11 ) . If this position is accepted, the job of why Beowulf
had forfeited God? s favor disappears. Beowulf in his young person overcomes his enemies with
God? s aid. But even with God at his side, Beowulf, like all work forces, must decease.
Beowulf is an fable of Christian redemption. There are many symbols that allude
to Christian mentions in Beowulf ; the battle with Grendel represents the redemption of
world, the battle with Grendel? s female parent represents Christ? s Resurrection, and the battle
with the firedrake resembles Christ? s decease.
There is existent witting analogy between Beowulf and Christ. There is, for
illustration, the familiar analogue between Hroogar? s congratulations of Beowulf, ? Yes, she may state,
whatever, adult female brought Forth this boy among mankind-if she still lives-that the God of
Old was sort to her in childbirth? ( Kermode, 45 ) , and the comment of a adult female to
Jesus in Luke 11:27, ? Blessed is the uterus that dullard thee, and the chests that thou hast
sucked. ? Besides, this address occurs shortly after Christ has cast out a devil ( 11:14-18 ) ,
while that of Hroogar follows Beowulf? s cleansing Heorot of the diabolic Grendel.
Again, Beowulf goes away to contend the firedrake accompanied by a set of 12, one of
whom is a perpetrator ; during the battle the 11 considerations flee, and one returns. This
analogues the image of Christ shortly before his decease attended by the 12 Apostles:
the lese majesty of Judas, the flight of the 11 staying Apostles, and the return of John
at the crucifixion.
Beowulf and Christ are icons of wisdom and power. Jesus is often
represented by patristic authors as the wisdom and power of God. A Vercelli Homily
comments of his early life that? he was filled with might and wisdom before God and
before work forces ( Tuso, 129 ) , and the poetic Descent into Hell describes him at the
Resurrection as? brave. . . winning and wise? ( Tuso, 22 ) . In early medieval
iconography, there normally existed a portraiture of a warlike and winning Jesus with
his pess resting on a flat king of beasts and firedrake which parallels Beowulf and Jesus as
heroic figures. Fr. Klaeber wrote, ? We might experience inclined to acknowledge characteristics of the
Christian Savior in the destroyer of beastly monsters, the warrior brave and gentle, blameless
in idea and title, the male monarch that dies for his people? ( Chickering, 17 ) . Both icons
represented power and wisdom of heroes.
The scene where Beowulf dives into Grendel? s dark mere and begins his descent
into the watery depths swimming until? the 9th hr of the twenty-four hours? ( Kermode, 57 ) . This
is about an ineluctable scriptural reverberation. In Luke 23:44-46, it is the same hr that Christ,
abandoned by all but a faithful few, died on the cross. Furthermore, this is where
Beowulf dove into Grendel and his female parent? s dark mere and swam until the 9th hr,
making the mere? s underside, typifying the decease of Christ and his stay in snake pit.
Beowulf, holding lain down his life for the defence of his people and holding
thanked God for winning the firedrake? s hoarded wealth for their usage, suggests the figure of Christ.
Charles Donahue articulately wrote, ? Our poet liked diptychs, and he left his audience
with a brace of images, Beowulf at the firedrake? s barrow on one side of the diptych, Jesus
on Calvary on the other? ( Poupard, 18 ) . Donahue suggests that both Christ and Beowulf
are sufferers for their people. They each gave up their lives to salvage the people.
The title-holder Beowulf, in life is evocative of the title-holder Christ in assorted
facets of his wisdom and power. Beowulf in the terminal is non revealed to be a God-man
but adult male. His decease non a supernatural expiation but a natural phenomenon. An analogy
of any sort between Beowulf and Christ in itself account for the ill-famed absence of
expressed mentions in the verse form.
The heroic poem of Beowulf is wrapped in a history of heathen ideal and Christian
milieus. The verse form is woven in Christian allegorical figures which give Beowulf a
romantic enigma that many heroic poems lack. Beowulf is a dateless classic that has endured the
centuries. All that is left of the heroic poem is the hero? s celebrity, a memorial every bit digesting as Earth.
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Poupard, Dennis, and Jelena O. Krstonc, erectile dysfunction. Classical and Medieval Literature
Criticism: Volume 1. Michigan: Gale Research, 1988.
Morris, Richard, erectile dysfunction. Blickling Homilies: Sermon 17 of the Tenth Century, Old Series,
no. 73. London: EETS, 1880. 209-11.
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Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 1975.