Beowulf - Religion Essay

The story of is much different and that makes it all the more interesting.Despite it being ostensibly pagan, it is imbued with many Christian elements.One might contrast this socially accepted version of patriarchal history with the various alternative models that the poem presents.

The Beowulf story has its roots in a pagan Saxon past, but by the time the epic was written down, almost all Anglo-Saxons had converted to Christianity.

As a result, the Beowulf poet is at pains to resolve his Christian beliefs with the often quite un-Christian behavior of his characters.

It is one of the largest texts in Old English and stands as a good representation of Old English literature and Anglo-Saxon culture.

The character Beowulf himself is quite famous for his heroism and kingly attitude.

Beowulf is loosely divided into three parts, each of which centers around Beowulf’s fight with a particular monster: first Grendel, then Grendel’s mother, then the dragon.

One can argue that this structure relates to the theme of the epic in that each monster presents a specific moral challenge against which the Anglo-Saxon heroic code can be measured and tested.An awareness of family lineage is one way in which the heroic code integrates itself into the warriors’ most basic sense of identity.By placing such an emphasis on who their fathers were and how their fathers acted, the men of Beowulf bind themselves to a cycle of necessity governed by the heroic code.Additionally, whereas Beowulf focuses on the heroic life early on, seeking to make a name for himself, he must focus on fate and the maintenance of his reputation late in life.The obsession with patriarchal history manifests itself throughout Beowulf, which opens by tracing Hrothgar’s male ancestry and constantly refers to characters as the sons of their fathers.One of the main thematic points highlighted by such a division is the difference in responsibilities of the warrior and of the king.As a young warrior, Beowulf is free to travel afar to protect others, but as an old king, he must commit himself to guard his own people.His subsequent encounter with Grendel’s mother evokes the importance of vengeance.Just as Beowulf exacts revenge upon Grendel for killing Hrothgar’s men, so too must Grendel’s mother seek to purge her grief by slaying her son’s murderer.Alternatively, one might make a division of the text into two parts, examining youth and old age as the two distinctive phases of Beowulf’s life.Along these lines, the gap of fifty years between the first two conflicts and the last marks the dividing line.


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