Beowulf, superhuman potency takes over him in the

Beowulf,one of the most important pieces of ancient English literature (originates fromthe 7th century) features both elements of paganism and Christianity ideologyin the Anglo-Saxon society. The poem is also a depiction of the political,social and cultural environment at a time when the German civilization had notlong separated from its warrior-code based pagan heritage and was increasinglyadapting to a warlike Christian society. Consequently, the poem attempts toinfuse Christian concepts with pagan elements to depict how two different beliefsystems can be blended to create a unique social-cultural identity. Therefore,this essay seeks to juxtapose pagan beliefs and Christian religious practices inthe Anglo-Saxon society Beowulffeatures pagan images of magic and monsters, for instance, Grendel is a demonand monster who commits atrocities against the Danes; Grendel’s powers ofdestruction were plain; he never showed remorse when killing (Beowulf, 11.

126-138).Grendel’s mother is also described as a monstrous being. The poem alsoelaborates on serpentine creatures in the lake and the sea monsters Beowulf hadbeen fighting in the past and on the dragon Beowulf must fight at the end. The poemuses two of the main monsters, Grendel and the dragon, to symbolize Christianbeliefs. Grendel represents societies sins and internal strife where the dragonsymbolizes the devil and greed.  Thestory illustrates pagan elements through the brute strength used by Grendel toannihilate his enemies.

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Consequently, Beowulf’s superhuman potency takes overhim in the fight with Grendel and he ends up ripping Grendel’s arm. Beowulf isalways sure to attribute his victories to God.  Beowulfportrays pagan beliefs and practices through wyrd, which is akin to fate andthree women who influence the path of human beings. In fact, when discussinghis encounter with Grendel and victory over him, the protagonist and Geatishhero asserts that it was through wyrd.

It was also through wyrd that Beowulfnot only received the call to fight Grendel but choose not to stay at home;Beowulf opted to fight for the lives of the Danes. As fate would have it,Beowulf’s courage could not save him from predetermined events, he had to diefifty years after defeating Grendel and his vile mother during his last fightagainst the Dragon. Despite going to fight the dragon with “the glory ofwinning” Beowulf was killed by the dragon’s deadly poison; “Beowulfdiscovered deadly poison suppurating inside him and despite his mortal woundshe spoke as he knew his days were numbered.

” (Beowulf 183,185.2715- 2724).             The use of special swords exemplifies pagan beliefs;Beowulf used a hilted, ancient and rare sword dubbed the Hrunting againstGrendel’s mother. The Hrunting was believed to have special powers that lied inits ill-boding patterns that had been tempered in blood; whoever used it inbattle would be guaranteed of victory against adversaries even when faced withthe most imminent danger (Beowulf 101.1459-1460). Such swords confirmpagan mindsets as they were believed to have blessings, offer protection andinvocations from the gods. Also, the ship burials found in Beowulf arereminiscent of pagan practices predominant in Anglo-Saxon societies.

Forinstance, in the beginning of the poem one of the legendary Danish kings whoenjoyed wealth and immense power, King Scyld, later in his life was buriedalongside gods and wealth that he would need in his next life. Moreover,cremation was evident in the Anglo-Saxon society, after the death of Beowulf;the Danes set his body on fire. Christianideals in a way surpass paganism in the Anglo-Saxon society as depicted in Beowulf. To begin with, upon thecompletion of King Hrothgar’s mead hall, Grendel who was of the lineage of theBiblical Cain attacked the Danes as they sang songs of rejoice and praise everyevening. According to the poet, Grendel was the name of the grim demon thathaunted the marches and wondered the heath and desolate fens (Beowulf 9.105-106).

Furthermore, Grendel dwelt in misery for a long time among the banishedmonsters who had not only been outlawed by God, but were also rendered outcast(Beowulf 9.110).  The belief inmonsters is a pagan ideal that the poet turns into a Christian view by implyingthat Grendel is a descendant of Cain.   Beowulf’s killing of the man-eating monsterillustrates Christianity as King Hrothgar praised God for his accomplishment.

Grendel was a burden to the king as he wreaked havoc and brought humiliationupon Heorot (Beowulf 33.473-475). The Attacks on the Danes had madethe king lose hope; Hrothgar states to Beowulf “it seemed I would never begranted the slightest solace or relief from any of my burdens: the best ofhouses glittered and reeked and ran with blood” (Beowulf 63.931-934). Therefore,the king was belated and acknowledged that it is God who grants victory andrequites people well.

Besides Hrothgar’s illustration of Christianity, Beowulfaffirmed his faith and acknowledged the existence of God after the dragonwounded him fatally; he gave thanks and praise to God for allowing him to leavehis people in safety and prosperity on the day of his death. Beowulf did notattest his victory to himself; this illustrated the shift from the conventionalpagan practices and beliefs to Christianity among the Anglo-Saxon society.Beowulf’sbattles against Grendel and the serpent are a reflection of the suffering ofChrist for the world. In this context, Beowulf’s victory over Grendelillustrates the eradication of evil and threats to Christianity as Grendel wasa cursed phantom that brought misery and death. The actions of Grendel alsopushed the Danes back towards pagan beliefs and rituals.

The battle against themonster represents a situation in which the efforts of a single person benefitthe whole society. Moreover, during the fight, the protagonist relied on God’sstrength, comfort, help, and support that he would need for victory (Beowulf 89.1270).Also, the death of Beowulf after his encounter with the serpent is in a way arepresentation of Jesus’s crucifixion and the redemption it brought the world.Nonetheless, this is similar to pagan beliefs on fate; it was Beowulf’s destinyto die to save others.

Justpractices, the ability to bring joy and to empathize with others illustratesSimilarities between Beowulf and Christ. Beowulf knew of the oppression of theDanes as Christ did with the Jews, consequently, through the desire to relieveothers of misery they participate in life-threatening activities to helpothers. As a result, they bring joy and receive blessings, for instance, theking Hrothgar adopted Beowulf in his heart (Beowulf 63.

946). Beowulf is justenough to tackle Grendel without any weapon showing his fairness in a battle. Inconclusion, Beowulf successfullyjuxtaposes Christianity and paganism. To start with, Beowulf features pagan images of monsters, but still show theChristian symbolisms of Grendel and the dragon. The use of unusual swords,cremations and the Ship burials illustrate pagan beliefs and practices by aseemingly Christian Beowulf that praises God for all his victories andblessings.  Nonetheless, Christianity andpaganism share the belief in fate and that your life is already written out foryou as highlighted in the essay many instances of wyrd, belief in fate and godswho influence someone’s destiny, takes place.

Fate and is a common Christianview as well. The Beowulf poem is agreat literary work that takes pagan heroism and adds a tinge of Christianbeliefs and symbolism.  


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