Comparing The Epic Poem, Beowulf, There Is Evidence Of Christian And Pagan Ideas

Comparing The Epic Poem, Beowulf, There Is Evidence Of Christian And Pagan Ideas

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In the epic poem, Beowulf, there is evidence of Christian and pagan ideas. The idea of fate is discussed often throughout, and the people of that time are described as leaving what happens with the fight between good and evil forces up to the idea of fate. For fear that there is nothing that can be done to change the course of what happens, everything is predestined. However, the poem also has Christian elements as well, and the people of that time often speak of God in relation to the help he gives them as well as his judgement. There has been some discussion as to whether this work can be labeled as a Christian work, or if the Christian elements were put in as an afterthought. While this seems to be a popular belief, when the time period is examined with the text, it is obvious that the work was simply a struggle of the time period. Beowulf is one of the first works written in a time where Christianity was evident in a culture that was also still stuck in the “heroic age”. The evidence of Christian and pagan values makes the struggle between good and evil more evident.
The fight between good and evil are intricately woven together in the Christian and pagan values. It is important to define what good and evil meant during this time period. Good was defined as “strong, generous and proud”, which is how the text describes Beowulf. Evil is defined as “demonic creatures from the marshes”, which is shown through Grendel. The text shows where the evil Grendel comes from, saying, “So times were pleasant for the people there until finally one, a fiend out of hell, began to work his evil in the world” (Greenblatt 99-101). Grendel is a “fiend out of hell”, hell is a Christian location, and when considered from a Christian ...


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...ic tale that explores the struggle between the good and evil forces. The questions that arise because of the togetherness of Christian and Pagan ideas are simply a reflection of the time it was written. A time where a society struggled with the change in a belief system. Where they wanted to believe in their ‘heroic code’ and the idea of fate, but also wanted to believe that they had God fighting on their side, and that good would prevail. Grendel and Beowulf exemplify the struggle between good and evil forces seamlessly. Grendel fits every description of an evil force, and Beowulf is the epitome of what was considered good. The question still remains as to if this poem is a Christian or pagan work. The important thing to realize is that it very well can fit both, or can be viewed as a Christian work alone; as fate seemingly stands as an alternative for God.

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