Analysis Of ' Grendel 's Mother From Beowulf, The Wanderer, And Caedmon 's Hymn

Analysis Of ' Grendel 's Mother From Beowulf, The Wanderer, And Caedmon 's Hymn

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It can be said that there is nothing more permanent than change throughout human history. This notion has prevailed throughout thousands of years as old beliefs and ways of life are replaced by the next logical step in humanity’s attempt to achieve some sensation of sureness or stability in life. Change is at the forefront of much of Old English literature, as the pagan, naturalistic religion of the Anglo-Saxons slowly shifted to Christian ideology. This clash of spiritualistic superiority is clearly illustrated in the episode of Grendel’s Mother from Beowulf, the Wanderer, and Caedmon’s Hymn, all of which display a shift of Anglo-Saxon society to Christianity through a demonization of nature, the passing of old tradition, and the power of God’s will over man.
First, all of these works describe a change in which god becomes the predominant force of life above nature. In the entirety of Grendel’s Mother, the eponymous creature, along with Grendel, are shown to be symbolic of nature and therefore evil. The swampy home of Grendel’s mother is indicative of the evils of nature, as is the frenzy of beasts at her command. Such raw representations of nature are seen as omens of death, as they “often surface at dawn to roam the sail-road and doom the voyage” (lines 1429-1430). This same characterization of nature extends to The Wanderer as well, primarily when he speaks of the events that have consumed the virtuous people and powerful images of his past. The walls as “wind-swept and wasted, downed by frost, and dwellings covered with snow” (74-75). By his description, all of the joys of his life have been taken by nature, as well as many of his comrades who were killed by animals. We even see a devaluing of nature in Caedmon’s Hymn when C...


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...umbled and fell” (Line 1544). Ultimately, none of Beowulf’s prowess could have saved him without the Lord’s guidance, since “holy God decided the victory” (1553-54).
In conclusion, Anglo-Saxon society was rapidly changing from a pagan worship of the power of man, the earth, and nature to the more enduring and practical notions of peace, serenity, and piety that were characteristic of Christian ideology. This transference into the modern age of Christianity was frequently worked into the literature of the time, as people learned to accept new ways of thinking and let go of their past reservations towards a new era of enlightenment and intellectual growth. While these tales are of a transition for long ago, people today can still gather much insight for the wise words of storied scholars and sages of for years to come; creating a sort of permanence for all of history.

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