Beowulf Is Not Your Average Viking Warrior

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“The hero observed the swamp-thing from hell, the tarn-hag in all her terrible strength, then heaved his war-sword and swung his arm: the decorated blade came down ringing and singing on her head. But soon he found his battle-torch extinguished; the shining blade refused to bite.” (1518-1523). Few images in medieval literature capture masculinity as well as the sword. Its phallic shape and use of dealing harm by penetrating your foe make it the ultimate allusion to the male anatomy. However, in this battle between Grendel’s mother and Beowulf, our hero’s sword cannot seem to perform its intended function. This failed display of masculinity by Beowulf is only one of many that suggest that he is not your average Viking warrior. The…show more content…
Beowulf’s gender-nonconformity is poorly justified by the Beowulf poet representing him as almost a Jesus Christ figure. There are several ways that Beowulf serves as a working Christ figure. He saves people’s lives, is chaste as far as we know and he even has a posse of twelve that follow him around. This allusion to Jesus is further solidified in the ending of the epic poem where Beowulf is betrayed by his “apostles” who allow him to fight the dragon mostly alone. Beowulf saying “this fight is not yours, nor is it up to any man except me…” (2533-2534), is essentially the same as how Jesus alone had to die to free man from sin. However, this Christianization of Beowulf is just an attempt for people to understand why Beowulf never had any sexual relations with a woman. By constant comparison to Jesus, who also abstained from sex, Beowulf’s abstinence is normal. However, this is not the case, it is instead an example of Catholicism making things confusing. It doesn’t make sense to have so much symbolism alluding to the fact that Beowulf is queer while simultaneously alluding to him as a Christ figure. Therefore, Beowulf must have been changed by the Beowulf poet or simply over the years of people telling the poem by word of mouth to fit better into Catholicism. During the fight with Grendel’s mother, Beowulf performs emasculating actions which are discounted by the fact that

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