Preview
Preview

Essay about Pagan Aspects in Beowulf

:: 2 Works Cited
Length: 1559 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Scholars have argued about the religious stance of the epic poem Beowulf for centuries. Although the man who put the poem down on paper, known as the Beowulf poet, was a devout Christian, the actual poem itself is pagan. There are many clues in the epic that lead us to this conclusion such as the numerous references to pagan symbols, namely the symbol of fate. Also, the central idea of revenge in the poem opposes the ideas of Christianity. The poem also contains many breaches of the Ten Commandments, which prove that the story is not Christian. However, the biggest clue to the paganism of Beowulf is the scene that contains the burial of Beowulf and the building and idolization of the tower, all of which go directly against the Christian religion.

Pagan symbols such as ravens, dragons and monsters, and poison can be found throughout the epic of Beowulf. The raven was a symbol from Norse mythology; it was the messenger for a war god named Odin. We find the reference to this pagan symbol after Beowulf defeats Grendel's mother. He and "the Geats slept till a black-feathered raven sang his cheerful song" (Norton 1587). This reference to such a pagan symbol is just the first piece of evidence for the paganism of the epic. We also know that Beowulf is a story based on the defeat by a warrior hero of two monsters and a dragon. However, dragons and monsters are not part of the Christian religion, so if the story were Christian, there would be no Grendel, his mother, or the dragon at all. Yet the entire story is based around these three characters. We cannot dismiss the fact that these beings are present in the story, nor can we ignore the fact that these beings are in no way Christian. Finally, the allusion to poiso...


... middle of paper ...


...greatly. The Beowulf poet makes sure to include small but meaningful references to the paganistic background of the epic poem. There are too many pagan symbols scattered throughout the work to be ignored, and too many rules of the Christian religion are broken by the characters of the poem for an argument to be made against the paganism of Beowulf. Also, we must not forget that ideas such as fate and revenge, which are shunned in Christianity, are two of the main themes in this story. Consequently, even though the Beowulf poet may have been Christian, as for the poem itself, all signs point towards paganism.


Works Cited:

Beowulf. Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Expanded Edition Volume 1.
ED. Maynard Mack et al. New York: Norton, 1995. 1546-1613.

Holy Bible. International Children's Bible. New Century Version. Word
Publishing, 1083. 55-56.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper








This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Christian And Pagan Ideals In Beowulf Essay - Before the invention of the printing press or written history, oral history, especially in early Germanic culture, became the foremost means of transcribing values, and past events. Written down in approximately 1,000 A.D. by an unknown author, Beowulf, originally a pagan fable, became a Christian allegory upon its transcription by Christian monks. However, as scholars have debated over the religious context in Beowulf, the attempts by the monks to turn the epic poem into a Christian parable ended merged, including both original and Christian aspects....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays] 1328 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Beowulf - Pagan or Christian Epic? Essay - Beowulf Pagan or Christian Epic Beowulf: Pagan or Christian Epic. Although the story of Beowulf is filled with references to religion and faith, many discrepancies occur throughout the story that suggest that Beowulf is not a Christian epic. The character of Beowulf frequently speaks to God and obviously believes in His existence. However, pagan practices are mentioned in several places. Beowulf often refers to another being rather than the Christian God. Pagan practices of cremation and blood-drinking are included in the epic....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays] 1060 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Beowulf Is A Pagan Work - The poem Beowulf was written in England sometime in the 8th century. It was written during a time when the society was in the process of being converted from paganism to Christianity. The Christian influences are combined with early folklore and heroic legends of Germanic tribes. Yet, the pagan elements in the epic poem Beowulf clearly overshadow the Christian elements, and it is visible in the character’s superhuman personifications, their hunger for revenge, and their strong belief in fate....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays] 518 words
(1.5 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Fear in Beowulf Essay - Pagan Aspects in Beowulf Scholars have argued about the religious stance of the epic poem Beowulf for centuries. Although the man who put the poem down on paper, known as the Beowulf poet, was a devout Christian, the actual poem itself is pagan. There are many clues in the epic that lead us to this conclusion such as the numerous references to pagan symbols, namely the symbol of fate. Also, the central idea of revenge in the poem opposes the ideas of Christianity. The poem also contains many breaches of the Ten Commandments, which prove that the story is not Christian....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays] 889 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Epic of Beowulf Essay - It is common opinion that Beowulf was written by a Christian poet. This was probably true because at the time when it was written, most of the few people who knew how to read and write were in the clergy. There are various references within the poem to elements of the Christian religion. However, the story is about Pagan people and certain aspects of their culture are even glorified. The ambiguity of Beowulf’s religious content has caused confusion as to what significance religion had in inspiring the author and in what manner the author meant to inspire or influence his audience....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays] 1466 words
(4.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
An Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Origin and Evolution of Beowulf - The Origin and Evolution of Beowulf       The origin of Beowulf remains a mystery, as both the poet and the year of composition has eluded scholars for centuries.  Although "[it] is now widely believed that Beowulf is the work of a single poet who was Christian . . ." (preface, Heaney 29), I see Beowulf as a mosaic of many poets.  In this paper, I will argue that with each new translation of this Old English epic, a new author of Beowulf is born.  The twenty-first century poet Seamus Heaney, who translated the Beowulf on which this paper is based, injects aspects of his world into this ancient poem.  Published in the year 2 000, the inconsistency of this most modern text reveals the messy...   [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1583 words
(4.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
essay on beowulf - In Beowulf, both pagan and Christian elements are present which add religious contrast to the poem. The poem begins with the king, Hrothgar, taking the throne of the Danes. During his reign, one of Hrothgars’ accomplishments included the building of the great Mead hall which served as a place of relaxation for his troops. Years passed and an evil monster came and terrorized the Hall. Then the great warrior, Beowulf, a foreigner offered to help rid the town of the monster. In the end, good triumphed over evil as he defeated the monster and returned the city to it’s people....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays] 582 words
(1.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Point Of View In Grendel And Beowulf Essay - Contrasting points of view in Grendel and Beowulf significantly alter the reader’s perception of religion, good and evil, and the character Grendel. John Gardner’s book, Grendel, is written in first person. The book translated by Burton Raffel, Beowulf, is written in third person. Good and evil is one of the main conflicts in the poem Beowulf. How is Grendel affected by the concepts of good and evil. Grendel is an alienated individual who just wants to be a part of something. His desire to fit in causes him to do evil things....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays] 1236 words
(3.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Women in Beowulf and Lanval History Essay example - Property of the King: Life of Medieval Women in Beowulf and Lanval History has been recorded throughout time in stories, books, poems and other literary works. These writings give historians and readers of the present day valuable insights into the lifestyles, beliefs, society, economics, politics and pagan religion of the time period they originate. Authors are greatly influenced by the beliefs and attitudes of their own society and time. The works they write provide a window to the past that allows us to peak through and see what life was like for the people of that particular history....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1114 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Christianity and the Beowulf Poet Essay - Christianity and the Beowulf Poet In my initial study of Beowulf it seemed to me that the Christian references in it were overlaid onto the essentially pagan tale that makes up the bulk of the poem. So I innocently decided to investigate this incongruity as the topic of this paper. And so I found myself smack-dab in the middle of an argument that has evidently raged for the last one hundred years or so. I found sources that ran the gamut from the position that Beowulf was a quintessentially Germanic pagan work that had been corrupted by some revisionist monastic scribe (Mooreman 1967), to the assertion that the author intentionally created a Christian allegory along the lines of Book...   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1177 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]