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Christian And Pagan Motives In Beowulf

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Interrelation of Christian and Pagan motives in “Beowulf” is, perhaps, one of the most frequently and actively discussed issues regarding this brilliant piece of Old English poetry. While it is possible to argue that “Beowulf” is almost entirely Pagan and all the Christian motives were added later, one can also find only the trace amounts of paganism, declaring the poem a Christian epic. A third and most balanced point of view states that both Christian and Pagan elements coexist in the poem to create a piece of literature that reflects social, cultural and religious complexity of its contemporary society. This essay will argue that, though Beowulf’s deeds are more or less Christian, his anticipation of his own actions reveals a Pagan attitude. Beowulf acts like a Christian hero, but his – and author’s – views of life and his values are the ones of the Pagan warrior of old.
In order to substantiate this claim properly several steps have to be taken. First of all, it is necessary to establish whether Beowulf’s heroic deeds are Christian ones, and for that purpose the essay will
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He fights vile creatures that God wants him to fight, like Grendel, but also endeavors exploits God has little concern for – like with the dragon. He attributes his victories to God’s grace and is right in doing so, but this grace is bestowed upon him because of his pagan virtues – strength, courage and martial prowess. He knows about the rewards God has in stock for the virtuous and, supposedly, values those, but is still more concerned about gaining the earthly fame, since it is the closest thing to immortality that Germanic paganism knows. All in all, it may be safely concluded that Beowulf presents and interesting literary example of the transitional age – a Christian warrior still clinging to his Pagan
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