Beowulf: the Pagan & Christian Epic Hero

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Beowulf has both pagan and Christian influences. Throughout the story there are many elements of Christian teachings: that man survives only through the protection of God, that all earthly gifts flow from God, and that the proper bearing of man is to be humble and unselfish (csis.edu, 2011). While many pagan influences appear in the poem, Christian overtones are more prevalent, exhibiting many elements of Christian heroism in the poem. An example is when Beowulf says “God must decide who will be given to death's cold grip” (Norton, lines 174-175). He knows that God has already created an ending to this battle with Grendel, and he is lavished with peace. He shows true Christian character, bravery, and faith in the manner in which he…show more content…
Beowulf and Grendel are images of the Christian beliefs of good versus evil. Grendel is acknowledged as a descendant of Cain, whom Satan tricks into sinning and committing the first murder (Block, 2008). He is the image of a man fallen from grace through sin. Like Satan who is jealous of the happiness and joy that Adam and Eve have in the Garden of Eden, Grendel is jealous of the happiness and joy in Heorot. Grendel, like Satan, is an enemy of God and is one of the greatest challenges to Beowulf. Grendel lives in an underworld as Satan lives in hell. Grendel is referred to in the poem as the guardian of sins (Norton, 2009). Grendel, the descendant of Cain, is a very hateful creature. He stalks the people and terrorizes them because he is jealous of their joy. Grendel’s stalking of the Dane’s is similar to the devil when he was cast out of heaven and the joys that were there. More parallels are evident in Beowulf's preparation and descent into the mere where Grendel's mother lives. While Beowulf is preparing to enter the water, he is pondering the evils that inhabit the pond. He knows he is faced with a greater challenge than before. He prepared as though he were preparing for death (Norton, 2009). Christ knew before his death that he was facing a great challenge, and he forgave his enemies. Beowulf's descent into the mere is similar to a baptismal rite. Going into the water purifies him, giving him the upper hand over his enemy,
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