Christian Influence In Beowulf

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The synthesis of Christian and Germanic cultures in ‘Beowulf’ is best seen in regards to the characters of Grendel, Grendel’s Mother in two ways. Firstly, through the relation of Grendel and his Mother to the biblical Cain, and how said lineage embroils them in a blood-feud. Secondly, this combination of beliefs is shown by the classification of Grendel and His Mother as ‘Monsters’ in both cultures.

It is established early on in the poem that Grendel is a descendent of the Biblical Cain; ‘...this miserable man/ lived for a time in the land of giants/ after the creator had condemned him/ among Cain’s race…’ (104-107). This is a strong example of Christian influence in two ways; first, in the idea of a monotheistic God and second in the …show more content…

It is this clear heritage that allows the Germanic principle of blood-feuds to be seamlessly incorporated. The actions of Grendel and His Mother are part of a feud that started with the murder of Abel and God’s subsequent cursing of Cain: 'when he killed Abel/ the eternal Lord avenged that death.' (107-108). As the Poem continues, it’s made clear multiple times that Grendel’s actions are done with avenging intent against God as a result of Cain’s curse. The first instance in during the early days of his assault on Heorot, ‘...Grendel strove/ long with Hrothgar, bore his hatred/ sins and feuds, for many seasons,’ (150-152). Other notable instances occur later in the poem, in the descriptions given to Grendel: 'he bore God's anger;’ (711) and ‘...God's adversary...' (786). This language, especially the use of the word ‘adversary’, gives a strong impression that Grendel and God are at odds. The …show more content…

In Christian culture, worshipping God is one of the things that confirms one’s humanity; therefore, if there is no belief or allegiance to God, then there can not be any humanity. This is the case with Grendel and his mother. Grendel is described as a ‘man’ only once in the poem, and that is only before God ‘condemned him’ (104-107). Every other time Grendel is referred to in the poem, he is described as something distinctly inhuman, and is pointedly called a ‘monster’ shortly before his confrontation with Beowulf; ‘...the monster reached out/ towards him with his hands…’ (747-748). While Christian culture condemns Grendel because of his relationship with God, Germanic culture does so due to his refusal to conform to their social norms. It is mentioned in the early days of Grendel’s murder spree that he has no understanding of pledging allegiance to a lord or the gifts offered to him: ‘ nor ceased his deadly hatred, nor settled with money/...he saw no need to salute the throne/ he scorned the treasures/ he did not know their love.’ (156-169). In Germanic culture, the unofficial laws of gift-giving and following a generous king are ones that govern people’s everyday lives. To them, the idea of someone neither understanding nor participating in these practises presents the image of someone less than human.

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