Good vs. Evil in "Beowulf"

924 Words4 Pages
In the epic poem Beowulf, the struggle between good and evil reveals its omnipresence in even the oldest of tales. The many allusions and symbols throughout the story relate to Christianity and other Pagan beliefs. By looking at them, it becomes apparent that the author of Beowulf believed that the constant war between good and evil is not only fought by the common man but also in the ranks of their highest esteemed rulers and warriors, and even in their dreaded nightmares where monsters lurk and wait for the death of man. Beowulf was written during the budding of Christianity in England, when it was newly forming. In the story there are obvious references to Christian rituals.

The very opening page is an allusion to the Creation, also present in Christianity. “…The Almighty making the earth, shaping these beautiful plains marked of by oceans, then proudly setting the sun and moon to glow across the land and light it;” (lines 7-10). Also, Grendel lusts for men not just for the meat, but he kills out of sheer pleasure. He enjoys killing much as Satan enjoys killing men spiritually. “No savage assault could quench his lust for evil” (lines 52-53). Also in the fight between Grendel and Hrothgar, there was no truce as is true in the spiritual battle between God and Satan, so one can gather that Hrothgar symbolizes God and Grendel is symbolic of Satan.

When Grendel takes the entire hall of Herot, he longs for the throne of Hrothgar which he cannot take because the hand of God himself protects it. “He never dared to touch king Hrothgar’s glorious throne, protected by God-God, whose love Grendel could not know” (82-85) In the Bible, Satan is the complete opposite of God and the only being in the Universe that God does not love. He is...

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... the most important is the connection between Grendel’s cave and Herot. Grendel’s cave is stagnant and filthy. It reeks of death. Herot is full of joyous singing and feasting. The cave represents a world that is completely alien to Herot. One is high and bright and full of song and joy, towering as the Scyldings' greatest achievement. The other is dark and dank and full of evil. These two contrasting ideas represent the polar opposites of Heaven and Hell. Hell is able to look up and see the wonderfulness of Heaven, but Heaven is oblivious to Hell’s existence, the same as is with the cave and

Christian symbolism in Beowulf is extremely obvious and prominent throughout the entirety of the poem. The author utilizes the Christian religion to symbolize the elements of good and evil and Heaven and Hell to help the spread of understanding of the religion throughout time.
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