Beowulf and Christianity
A Critical Response to Beowulf After reading the story Beowulf as translated by Burton Raffel, I saw two aspects of this story written in the Anglo-Saxon period. When reading the story you notice that there are multiple aspects of paganism and of Christianity included in the story. Many scholars have debated whether of not a monk might have written it during the paganism period or whether a second author might have added to the story later on in history. I believe that it might have been written by a monk who decided to add to t while he wrote the original.
I also that even though pagan ideas were implemented into the story, the Christian ideas are more prominent. Firstly, there were many pagan ideas in the book. One of the non-Christian things that Beowulf and his men did was to drink at Herot. (19-20) The men there at Herot were drinking and some were drunk which is a sin in the Bible. Other pagan ideals include that of Beowulf being full in himself and wanting to be remembered rather than doing it out of the kindness of his heart. 9-20) During this part of the story, Beowulf talks about how many monsters he has slayed and how he will be remembered for killing Grendel. He also talks about this at the end of the story when Beowulf is dying. (37) He says, “… The brave Geats build me a tomb, when the funeral flames have burned me, and build it Here, at the water’s edge, high on this spit of land, so sailors can see this tower, and remember my name… ” Secondly, in the story I believe that the Christian aspects of the story overpower the pagan beliefs.
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I think that the story of Beowulf closely resembles the story of Jesus in the Bible. In the Bible, you have the conflict of Jesus and Satan, and in the story you have the conflict of Beowulf and Grendel. It also presents the good vs. evil theme as well as the Bible. The story also refers to Grendel as being a descendent of Cain (14) from the very beginning. This comes from a story in the Bible. Taking this story another step further, you can parallel the death of Christ to the death of Beowulf.
In the 14 ection, literally described as the “Final Battle” he takes on a dragon, (also a form of Satan) and ends up fighting and defeating the dragon. Beowulf defeats evil but pays a price in the end. Just as Jesus died on the cross to defeat evil for all of the world, Beowulf also gives his life while defeating “evil” to save the Geats. In conclusion, I believe that the Christian overtones of the story overpower the pagan beliefs. In the end, I think that a monk might have written this and incorporated the Christian beliefs into the story.