The Clash of Paganism Versus Christianity in Beowulf

Beowulf is the first great English literature. Beowulf was written around A.D. 700 by an anonymous Christian monk. One of the essential concerns of this epic poem is whether or not it is of pagan or Christian origin, or whether it has pagan or Christian influences. The unknown author was undoubtedly a Christian, but also knows just as much about paganism. Paganism and Christianity clash and merge in this poem. Furthermore Beowulf viewed as explicitly Christian or pagan literature, the text represents some of both religions throughout this poem. It is hard to ignore the Christian and pagan elements in Beowulf. Pagan and Christian fusing is a strong element of the early Anglo-Saxon poem. Paganism highly regards the concepts of fame, fate, and vengeance, and these are highly evident in Beowulf, but within these are woven the Christian qualities of loyalty, humility, sacrifice for the good of others and sympathy for those less fortunate, which Beowulf also shows.
Understanding Christian references is important in this poem. The references explain why some thing are the way that they are. For example lines 20-23 “Conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God, punished forever for the crime of Abel’s death....” Saying that a monster came from Cain is not a biblical reference. The story of Cain and Abel is though. Without knowing the story of Cain and Abel it is hard to understand the what this reference means. Cain killed his brother Abel because Cain was jealous. Cain was seen as a monster for killing his own brother. Therefor that story is used to help describe a monster. Grendel would kill the townspeople and their city, but he would not touch Hrothgar’s throne. “In Herot, when the nig...

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... examples where Beowulf confuses the readers on what he believes. Beowulf is a hero no matter what he believes in.
The poem and Beowulf both show paganism and Christianity ideals and beliefs. In Beowulf there is fate, humility, fame, loyalty, and so much more that did not even get mentioned. Although the poem appears to be originally a pagan story, there are many clues in the text that point to Christian influence and traditions. In addition to Beowulf and his heroic deeds against Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the Dragon the author combines elements of Christian ideal and pagan ideal. The combination of Christian and pagan elements and references now shows Beowulf’s position in English history. These elements, that have been so uniquely combined in the poem, help define who Beowulf is. In conclusion Beowulf is a great poem whether it is a Christian or pagan poem.

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