Beowulf And Christian Values

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Beowulf and Christian Values


Beowulf was written at a time in the Anglo-Saxon period that drastic change was taking place in the religious lifestyle. It shows Christianity by referring to Holy God, the Heavens, and The Bible story about Cain. It demonstrates paganism with the superhuman abilities of Beowulf, monsters and dragons, the use of magic, and the belief that fame is important. In the story Beowulf can be viewed as both Christ-like and as pagan. (Gillam: 145-69) By mixing Christian and pagan ideas, the author of Beowulf was able to show the importance of the morals of his time and to make his characters better with Christian values and pagan legends. At the time when Beowulf was written missionaries were trying to convert the pagan Anglo-Saxon people into a Christian society. Therefore the poem has influences from both Christian and pagan views. Although most of the Anglo-Saxons appeared to be committed Christians many still had their pagan beliefs. The thesis statement for this essay is that the epic poem, Beowulf, exhibits many different Christian and pagan influences. (Robinson: 244)


The European epic, Beowulf, was written sometime in the eighth century in England. This time period provides us with an idea for the mixture of Christian and pagan elements because of an English society that was in the process of converting from Paganism to Christianity. Examples of Pagan and Christian traditions are presented all throughout literature. Many of the influences deal with what it going on in the world, when the piece is written. When Beowulf was written, St. Augustine had just come over to try and convert the Anglo-Saxon people to Christianity; although the conversion succeeded it was a shallow conversion, and there were still people following the Pagan ways. The fact that Christianity and Paganism are so closely combined in the epic explains the reasons for Beowulf's Christian and pagan influences. Blending in among Beowulf's triumphs against the three key creatures, we also see Christian virtues being instilled upon the listeners. The good qualities of loyalty, humility, sacrifice for the good of others, and sympathy for those less fortunate are seen woven into the text as well as the negative consequences from greed and pride. In a thorough analysis of Beowulf, the Christian and pagan elements, represented in the characters and their journeys through various countries, creates an epic adventure filled with superhuman qualities and Christian ideals that often parallel themselves to biblical characters and events. Throughout literature there have been countless parallels and references to the story of Christ as written in the Bible. Even in such unexpected places as in seemingly pagan poems of ancient Danes and Geats- an epic with dragons and monsters- one still finds similar biblical allusions. In just such an unexpected place, the epic Beowulf, it's title hero and his circumstance, become an allegory for the story of Christ. In this sense, Beowulf can be seen as a Christian story of salvation. (Orchard: 205)

The similarities between Beowulf and the story of Christ are ...
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