Beowulf Fatalism Analysis

724 WordsSep 25, 20173 Pages
The Anglo-Saxon period of British history was one swarming with uncertainty, woe, and misfortune. With such a bleak quality of life, many people of the time believed that death would be the same way, and that there was nothing they could do about it. This outlook was known as fatalism. However, some had a much brighter hope for the future, and practiced the well known religion of Christianity. In the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, written by an anonymous author, this religious ambivalence of the times is a major theme. References to fatalism, or a fatalism-Christianity hybrid are often made, while at other times, Christianity is seen as the ultimate truth. To begin with, Beowulf often mentions a dying, but still relevant, spirituality of…show more content…
Before he takes his last breath, the brave king makes sure that Wiglaf collects the opulence that the dragon was hiding. When Wiglaf observes all the glimmering riches, he notices that they are “...beautifully made, but with no hands to rub and polish them” (173-174). This is when Wiglaf realizes that wealth cannot be taken with you into death, an idea heavily based on the fatalistic belief that everything you have in life is lent to you. As a religion that formed due to the hardship of Anglo-Saxon times, it is easy to understand why the faith makes a reappearance when the Danes experience adversity. Despite these remnants of fatalism, Christianity surfaces in Beowulf time and time again. Quite on the contrary to fatalism, Christianity’s hope and optimism spread through Anglo-Saxon villages like wildfire, and soon became the dominant religion of the time. When Grendel is first introduced into the poem, he is described as “a brood forever opposing the Lord’s will, again and again defeated” (28-29). Not only does this selection mention the Lord, but highlights how He is all powerful, and cannot be defeated by even the strongest Devil. Not only would Grendel be rendered defenseless in a battle with the Lord, he cannot even “touch King Hrothgar’s throne, protected by God” (84-85). Grendel’s utter helplessness to anything related to God establishes the Christian belief that the Lord’s goodness can

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