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Essay On Christian And Paganism In Beowulf

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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…show more content…
If both the good and the evil forces are equal, then how does one win? The text provides an answer by saying, “Like a man outlawed for wickedness, he must await the mighty judgement of God in majesty” (Greenblatt 976-980). They might be equally matched, however, nothing can compare to the, “mighty judgement of God in majesty”, and Beowulf has God’s favor on his side. Which according to the bible in the book of Psalms it says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (James Psalms 46:1). This further suggests that Beowulf is a Christian work, as the hero in the story is winning his battles based on the strength that he gains from God. However, even though it seems as if Beowulf has God on his side it seems there is a notion of the belief of fate involved too, it says, “At the wall ’twill befall us as Fate decreeth,” (Greenblatt 64). It seems that even though Beowulf is acknowledging God’s part in his victory, it is still up to fate, a very pagan idea, to decide what will…show more content…
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
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