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Biblical Allusions In Beowulf

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Because it was passed down for many years, Beowulf contains a unique mixture of pagan culture and Christian beliefs. The protagonist, Beowulf, is a mighty warrior who often cries out in petition to the Christian God. In contrast Hrothgar, the King of Herot, is a pagan leader who makes sacrifices to “old stone gods” in times of strife (Beowulf 90). The author may have done this in order to provide the audience with a foundation for the story. Readers of the time were familiar with the Bible and all of its stories. Even today audiences have a firm grasp and knowledge on the events of the Bible. Through allusions to the story of Cain and Abel, and to God’s power and protection, the story applies a stronger and more effective skin to commonly known material. The story of Cain, and the murderous rage he inflicts on his brother Abel is one that many remember because of the curse Cain receives from God. After lying to God about killing his brother, Cain can no longer live a fruitful and successful life. He and his descendants are cursed to misery and torment for his transgression. Grendel, one of the unfortunate descendants of Cain, is a prime example of biblical allusion in Beowulf. “He was spawned in that slime, / Conceived by a pair of those monsters born / Of Cain, murderous creatures banished / By God, punished forever for the crime / Of Abel’s death” (19-23). This description of Grendel attaches a stigma to him without giving him any real characteristics. Before he has even
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