Beowulf Symbolism

Decent Essays
An Analysis of Beowulf: Religious Symbolism

Rich Lawson quotes that, “Works often provide a great deal of insight about the time period during which they were written”(Christianity in Beowulf). At the time of 700 A.D., life was almost as simple as one could imagine. At this time, paganism slowly faded out and Christianity took its place as the dominant religion. While this was true, people and scribes alike kept their pagan ideologies. The time of 700 A.D. was also the time that one of the greatest and oldest known literary works was written. Beowulf is the story of the typical hero, fighting against all odds to defeat the villain. What some do not see, however, is the tension between two religions occurring throughout the epic poem. Famous critic Rich Lawson believes that “Beowulf contains many pagan themes and concepts, but yet it also contains many references to Christianity”(Christianity in Beowulf). Whether our hero falls under Christianity or paganism is difficult to say, but both sides are clearly represented throughout. In Beowulf, the unknown author emphasizes both Christian and pagan symbolism and how the two coexist. From as early as the first passage, we see our first Christian reference. Known as the “Song of Creation”, it briefly describes “The Almighty making the earth” (l. 7). Then, in lines 302 and 309, Beowulf tells the tale of slain monsters of his travels when he describes “God’s bright beacon” and proclaims the Earth as being under “Heaven’s high
Get Access