Remaking Beowulf as a Christian Hero

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Remaking Beowulf as a Christian Hero

The story of Beowulf is full of religious references and symbolism, but is it truly a Christian story? According to the narrative, Beowulf is an instrument of God, an instrument of righteousness called by God to perform His will for the Danes. In stark contrast to his good, is the enemy, Grendel, the incarnation of pure evil. These two characters appear to represent the forces of good versus the forces of evil. It would be easy enough to leave the story that way, but it appears that Beowulf is written intentionally to make the main characters appear more important by adding Biblical references to the narrative. By creating characters of a Biblical stature, the story as a whole has an added importance. The story was to be important enough that those who told it and those that heard it would never forget the tale.

This gruesome creature was called Grendel,

notorious prowler of the borderland, ranger of the moors,

the fen and the fastness; this cursed creature

lived in a monster's lair for a time

after the Creator had condemned him

as one of the seed of Cain - the Everlasting Lord

avenged Abel's murder. Cain had

no satisfaction from that feud, but the Creator

sent him into exile, far from mankind

because of his crime. He could no longer

approach the throne of grace, that precious place

in God's presence, nor did he feel God's love. (102-113)

Grendel is likened to Cain in this passage, but he seems to show characteristics of the devil as well. He is called a prowl...

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...ciety. The pagan religions were passing away and being replaced by new traditions and a new religion. Maybe this version of Beowulf is like a remake of an old movie done forty years ago. It had been revamped to fit in with the times. If it had, it was a good idea, because this "modernized" version of Beowulf has certainly stood the test of time.

Works Cited

Blackburn, F.A.. "The Christian Coloring in the Beowulf." In An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism, edited by Lewis E. Nicholson. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1963.

Bloom, Harold. "Introduction." In Modern Critical Interpretations: Beowulf, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.

Frank, Roberta. "The Beowulf Poet's Sense of History." In Beowulf - Modern Critical Interpretations, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
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