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Christian Elementss In Beowulf Essay, Research Paper

Christian Elementss in Beowulf

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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

dice than

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.

Primary Source

Kermode, Frank, and John Hollander, et Al. Beowulf. The Oxford Anthology of English

Literature: Vol 1. New York: Oxford UP, 1973. 29-98.

Secondary Beginnings

Chickering, Howell D, Jr. Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition. New York: Anchor,


Clark, George. Beowulf. New York: Twayne, 1990.

Holland-Crossley, Kevin, and Bruce Mitchell. Beowulf. New York: Farrar, Straus, and


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.

Tuso, Joseph F, erectile dysfunction. Beowulf: The Donaldson Translation Backgrounds and Beginnings

Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 1975.