Christian Symbolism in Beowulf Essay

1592 Words Oct 19th, 2008 7 Pages
Christian symbolism in Beowulf within the poem Beowulf, the poet utilizes the Christian religion to symbolize the elements of good and evil and Heaven and Hell. Beowulf is the oldest known English epic poem. The manuscripts date back to about 1000 A.D., when two scribes wrote it down for posterity. The poem was handed down from the Anglo-Saxon period, and through the retelling of the poem, it changed a little each time. The poem creates an oral depiction of an epic hero who strived to fight against the forces of evil. There really was a “historical” Beowulf who helped the Geats and Danes fight off pirates, but he was neither King of the Geats nor Danish hero at any time. In fact, he was not considered a man of any extraordinary qualities, …show more content…
The poet tells about “The Almighty making of the earth, shaping beautiful plains, marked off by oceans, then proudly setting the sun and moon to glow across the land and light it” (7-10). In the Bible, Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Immediately following this passage, it goes on to explain the history of Creation. Included in this description is how God made light and dark, land and ocean, plant and animal, and finally the ultimate creation, man. God gave the gift of free will to all of His children. Beowulf relies on God’s will and his own strength in his three battles. Beowulf’s first battle is against the evil monster, Grendel. “Beowulf trusts in his own strength as much as in God’s grace in his battle” (Chickering 272). After his first battle, “A pang of mortality strikes Beowulf as he looks back at the splendid neck-ring he has been given by Hrothgar as part of his reward for victory over Grendel”(Price 25). Beowulf was showing humility because he knows that he is human and could have been killed. The Bible speaks about humility in numerous books. For example, 1 Peter 5:5 says that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Nearing death, Grendel realizes that he “once the afflicter of men, tormentor of their days—[knew] what it meant to feud with the Almighty God” (Beowulf 490-492). This passage shows Grendel
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