This poem is a famous piece of literature that was set in the pre-Christian era. It is about a hero who was revered for his courageous and often successful undertakings. The essence of this poem is not to awaken religious disparities, but due to the nature of outright paganism brought out by the poet, there have been some efforts to incorporate Christian elements. This was done on a small scale. At the time when the poem was being drafted, the society was largely non-religious. Most of its values were based on traditional beliefs. This could be the reason why the poet chose the direction of non-religious approach to the poem.
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The two main characters of the poem, Beowulf and Hrothgan, are portrayed as pagans. Their actions cannot be linked with any known religion, at least the one existing at the time of the creation of the poem. Their relationship is based on trust and respect for each other. The warrior comes to help the king at the time when his services are needed urgently. The demon terrorizing the region was rampant and the king needed a fast and effective solution. Hence, the king was grateful to the great warrior for the arrival and success. The relationship between these two characters reflects a Christian belief based on the help to the faithful. Just like the king was accorded help at his time of need, so are Christians, when they call out to their God. Beowulf also had to be loyal to his lord. The same case is with Christians, who have to pledge their loyalty to God.
Some scholars have linked the Grendel family to the lineage of Cain. The reason is that they are cut from the same cloth as other people but they have decided to go against their own. According to the Bible, Cain was the son of Adam who betrayed his brother and was banished to an eternal life of misery. He is a ghost that has haunted humanity since the creation. This comparison is hence warranted since the Grendels are ghosts too. The presence of the two biblical brothers in the poem could be an effort by the poet to include aspects of Christianity contrasting to the pagan ones. There is a direct quote from the poem proving this assumption. “On kin of Cain was the killing avenged / by Sovran God for slaughtered Abel” (Beowulf lines 107-108). This and other direct quotations referencing the Bible help reduce the pagan tension in the poem.
The use of the figurative language is another device used by the poet in order to curtail the element of paganism in the poem. “Almighty they knew not, / Dooms man of Deeds and dreadful Lord, / nor Heaven’s-Helmet heeded they ever, / Wielder-of-Wonder” (Beowulf 180-183). This is a direct quote from the poem that shows its connection to Christianity. Since the society was fast changing at the time when this poem was being written, the poet must have anticipated a change in the beliefs of people from paganism to other religions. Since Christianity was the one thought to have the largest potential, its views and beliefs were incorporated to increase the number of people who would read and internalize the poem.
An epic cannot be complete without a hero. This is one requirement to be fulfilled in order to be successful in narrating an epic story. Readers of an epic have to be impressed and wowed by the events taking place in the story. In the poem “Beowulf” the warrior is the hero. He is idolized for many conquered battles and even ascribed supernatural powers. This aspect of the poem is similar to Christianity. In this religion the believers are centered on the belief that their God is all powerful and all knowing. He is their hero. According to the Bible, God is the creator of the world and the controller of everything that goes on in it. He is feared by all Christians and they look to him for help and guidance. The same applies to Beowulf, although on a smaller scale. The warrior is feared throughout the region. People think that he is capable of doing extraordinary things, especially since he has demonstrated that he has the capabilities. There is a line in the poem that hints he is immortal. “Death even thee in haste shall o’erwhelm, / thou hero of war” (Beowulf 1767-1768). Here the poet is marveling at the warrior, saying that he can conquer even death. This can be connected back to Christianity. The warrior can be compared to Jesus, who conquered death on the cross and rose from the dead. He was also the right hand of God, a fact which can be compared to Beowulf being the right hand of the king.
According to the views expressed above, it is possible to consider Beowulf as a Christian hero. His positive attributes put him in line for a massive following, just like the case with Jesus Christ was. While on the earth, Jesus did many things that people marveled at, and hence they followed him. The warrior in this poem is portrayed as someone having an inspirational effect on people. So, it’s reasonable to see him as a Christian warrior.
There is a lot of sacrifice in the poem. The warrior sacrifices his safety and comfort to fight off the evil that is terrorizing people. This is a form of self-giving that is observed in Christianity. This concept is hence used by the poet to bring an allure of religion amidst the paganism surrounding the poem. It is effective in softening the pagan stand of the poem and hence shows diversity in the views expressed in it.
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