Good vs Evil in Beowulf

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In Beowulf, the clash between good and evil is the poem's main and most significant focal point. Although the epic poem Beowulf utilizes many characteristics of Christian themes, the violence in the poem relates to paganism. By exploring the characteristics of “good vs. evil” such as Cain, Grendel and Beowulf, this paper will explore the elements of Beowulf in such a light.

The Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf, was originally told orally then later was written down anonymously in the Old English language. It is not known who or whom wrote this poem down. What we do know is that Beowulf is the oldest surviving epic poem of the English language; the original has suffered irreparable damage in a fire. “The poem dates back to 1000 AD” ( “The materials for the poem are derived mainly from Scandinavian history, folk tale, and mythology. Its narrative consists of two parts: The first relates Beowulf's successful fights with the water monster Grendel and with Grendel's mother; the second narrates the hero's victory in his old age over a dragon and his subsequent death and funeral at the end of a long life of honor” (

Both Christianity and Paganism elements were closely intertwined within the poem because there was a religion change in the early medieval Britain. Christian elements were added later in to the poem to connect further to the newly Christian audience. For example, the story of Cain and Abel is mentioned several times throughout the poem; this story is form the Christian Bible. In addition to the story of Cain and Able, God is also reference to several times as well by Beowulf himself.

The main purpose of the poem Beowulf is to explain how good always conquers evil. In addition, the poem wa...

... middle of paper ... such as jealousy, which then lead both to act of murder. Of course, like almost every other story good vs. evil is main theme, even in The Bible. Good always defeats evil in the end as portrayed in the poem Beowulf.

Works Cited

Carr, Dr. Karen., 15 Jan. 2009, web 8 Nov. 2009

Wright, Latonya., 14 April 2000, web 8 Nov.2009

Genesis 4, web 12 Nov. 2009

"Beowulf", The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2009 from

Lazzari, Marie. Epics for Students: presenting analysis, context, and criticism on commonly studied epics

Raffel, Burton. From Beowulf
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