In the story of Beowulf, there is a noticeable struggle between Christianity and Paganism, and the characters personal battle between the two. Throughout the story the characters display actions that lead towards Paganism and Christianity. Contrary to Pagan belief Beowulf is seen as the epitome of good and beneficent to all of mankind. In Beowulf, the people showed their faith and love in God, however due to horrific events, paranoia caused them to look for a quick fix and turns them to Paganism.
In eighth-century Anglo-Saxon society, an important transition occurred from the use paganism to the new traditions of Christianity. Beowulf is an epic poem in which the main character Beowulf has an internal conflict regarding two religions. To further understand why Beowulf has both Christian and pagan influences you must first understand the Anglo-Saxon culture. In the eighth century, Christianity was evolving into the orthodox religion for the people. However, aspects of pagan culture were still being observed, but to a lesser extent. This connection led to many works of the time being of both religions. Beowulf was written by an anonymous Christian monk; the ideals of the epic poem represents Christianity, paganism, and coexists as both faiths.
As European civilizations began to develop, humans created polytheistic belief systems. These belief systems allowed humanity to define, worship, and comprehend both the natural and supernatural worlds that surrounded them. However, as perceptions of religious beliefs changed, polytheistic belief systems transformed into a monotheistic belief system. Originally governed by the Celtic faith, Britain’s belief structure experienced a significant transformation with the conquest of the Anglo-Saxons and their Germanic paganism. Society was struggling to establish its identity within a new belief structure. To ease this integration Christian ideas were founded on the existing pagan ideology. This transition produced a gradual conversion to Christianity. The epic poem “Beowulf”, written circa 1000 AD, reflects the unification of Anglo-Saxon pagan concepts with Christian beliefs. ……. The poem, “Beowulf”, demonstrates the fusion between these two divergent religious systems in the characterization Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon by utilizing principles from both Christianity and Paganism.
The significance of Paganism and Christianity are both present in Beowulf. Beowulf was written between the 8th and 10th century’s, when the Anglo-Saxon society was beginning to change from Paganism to Christianity. Many believe that this is essentially a pagan work since the Christian faith hadn’t fully arrived in the Anglo-Saxon society. However, according to Douglas Wilson, “The poet could easily have known individual Christian Anglo-Saxons who had converted from paganism”(page.31); this showing how the author would have been able to retrieve information about the customs and morals of Christianity. Christianity is a religion based upon monotheistic beliefs, belief in one personal and transcendent God and based through Jesus’s teachings. This religion teaches that God has a path for everyone, that people may choose to follow and live by him. The epic poem through the years, has been based upon Christianity but still contains a good deal of Pagan elements. Paganism is a religion founded before Christianity, having no belief in a personal god and based more on the concept of fate, that people do not have control over their life. In Beowulf, God is praised for all of his works by Beowulf himself, and the other characters. While also believing that fate controlled the character’s lives.
Pagan ideas and values were a large influence in the creation of Beowulf due to the period it was created in. As the narrative was passed down by mouth Christianity views were slowly developed into the story. The poem was written after Anglo-Saxons were Christianized, but it is evident that pagan views were still in their mindsets. With these ideals still present, paganism and Christianity were woven into the story, and we see a mix of heroic ideals and self-sacrificing virtues that create a story filled with religious influence. Fame, fate, and revenge are concepts tied with paganism that are shown throughout Beowulf alongside Christian values of loyalty, humility, sacrifice, and the negative consequences of greed and pride. No matter how
Beowulf is one of the most well-known poems in the world. It is considered the “mother poem” of England and has been for centuries. Christianity and Paganism do not go hand in hand as they are both well distinguished, but opposites throughout Beowulf. In the poem, the Christian monk reveals how the characters react to different situations using both religions. The core values of Paganisms believe in retaliation and vengeance, whereas Christianity’s core values signify forgiveness. Both of these attributes contradict each other through the course of the poem because the warriors look to God for guidance and protection before battle. However, when things do not go as planned they then blame it on fate. The “unknown author” in Beowulf distinguishes both religions in the poem by providing symbolism and ideologies for both Christianity and Paganism and how they contradict one another.
The expression “Jesus take the wheel” is quite common in today’s world, but just because it is a modern saying does not mean that it did not have any relevance in earlier time. Throughout the story of Beowulf, a comparison between Christianity and paganism had always been a topic discussed both within the text and spoken aloud in the classroom. Likewise, in this instance, man-made issues serves as a mirror of paganism and trust in God becomes Christianity. Many factors throughout section three revert to paganism rather than Christianity because there was no trust in God. Details such as pride, arranged marriage, and death are the major aspects of man-made issues in this section.
Beowulf is written by an unknown author but is suspected to have been written by a Christian monk around 700-1000 A.D. This poem is known as the mother poem of England and one of the most influential works. All throughout the poem, we are introduced to the religions Christianity and paganism. Paganism is a “dark mystical religion from dark ages and is polytheistic religion and worship more than one god in the wilderness and they make idols out of wood or stone that they pray to.” Christianity is the “Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.” Christianity and paganism contradict each other many times during the poem and they both work together to show how Beowulf reacts with both fate and God at his side. The unknown author does a remarkable job at combining the two to show how other characters also react to both. Although never precisely told which religion Beowulf is, the unknown author shows the mix of Beowulf's religion is paganism, Christianity, and is even able to combine and show the cross of the two and how it affects him.
Written at a time when Pagan and Judeo Christian beliefs were both in the Scandinavian region, Beowulf provides a unique blend between the two, creating a vibrant and fascinating world full of monsters, magic sword, and mighty heroes who save the innocent. God plays an immense role in Beowulf as defender of men, giver of victories, and provider of Beowulf. What is unique about the God in Beowulf is He is not truly Christian or Pagan, but rather a blend created from the beliefs of the Celtic people. This God upholds righteousness and condemns immorality. He decides the outcome of battles through Fate and guides leaders decisions on vital matters. “But the Lord was weaving a victory on His war-loom for the Weather-Geats”(696-697). This clear
Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic that was transmitted verbally for hundreds of years before it was written down. Around the time of its composition, Christianity was beginning to gain prominence in England and was quickly replacing the animistic religion of the Celts. As a result of the dueling religions of the time, the poem includes influences from both Christianity and paganism, leaving its readers to wonder which religion had the most sway over the poet. Beowulf is a fundamentally more Christian epic on account of Beowulf’s resemblances of Jesus Christ, its allusions to the Bible, and its intimation of a supreme, monotheistic religion.
In the story Beowulf, there are a few different religions that are represented by the author. All the religions are portrayed in the story through the author’s eyes and his beliefs. The author makes clear what religion he believes in and his views. Some instances in the story also relate to the conflict between Christianity and the code of warriors. Throughout the story, the author is faced with the challenge of trying to portray his beliefs with a character whose actions are in conflict with his beliefs. Beowulf, in this story is based on the total opposite of the author’s beliefs and there are instances when his behavior is shown, and after there is symbolism of Christianity, to show its conflict with his behavior.
Scholars have argued about the religious stance of the epic poem Beowulf for centuries. Although the man who put the poem down on paper, known as the Beowulf poet, was a devout Christian, the actual poem itself is pagan. There are many clues in the epic that lead us to this conclusion such as the numerous references to pagan symbols, namely the symbol of fate. Also, the central idea of revenge in the poem opposes the ideas of Christianity. The poem also contains many breaches of the Ten Commandments, which prove that the story is not Christian. However, the biggest clue to the paganism of Beowulf is the scene that contains the burial of Beowulf and the building and idolization of the tower, all of which go directly against the
The Anglo-Saxon poem “Beowulf” takes the reader back into a time long past; one of family, fate, and fealty. Beowulf offers a glimpse of a society struggling between two different paths, one path being the assimilation into the new Christian traditions and the other is the fast fading past of glorified warriors and family ties. In the poem, the reader can see the attempts of the poet to convey the values and stories of Judeo-Christianity in a society of Anglo-Saxon paganism. The poet illustrates the infiltration of the Christian teachings and how they might have appeared within the lives of the people through the literary devices of symbolism, allegory, and allusion.
“Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster, God must decide who will be given to death’s cold grip. Grendel’s plan, I think, will be what it has been before, to invade this hall and gorge his belly with our bodies.” (Lines 268-273) This quote was said by Beowulf a little while before he fought Grendal. This quote shows that Beowulf is ready to risk his life to save his people from a monster that has killed many people. He does this throughout this epic; fighting battles with different monsters that put his people’s lives in danger. Also during some of the fights he has faith in God and he believes that God will be there to help him when he needs it. Beowulf is a blending of Christian traditions and beliefs such as
"How the Almighty had made the earth a gleaming plain girdled with waters; in His splendor He set the sun and the moon to be earth's lamplight, lanterns for men and filled the broad lap of the world with branches and leaves; and quickened life in every other thing that moved."(Line 92)