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Symbolism In 'The Dream Of The Rood'

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‘The Dream of the Rood’ has been marveled as one of the finest religious poems from the Anglo-Saxon time period. The poem itself shows the contrast between the Pagan religion and Christianity and the overlap of religious symbols between them. It follows the crucifixion of Jesus and the dreamer’s journey to finding faith. The rood is seen as the backbone of the crucifixion and is depicted as being praised more than Christ. Using the literary devices of kenning and alliteration the author highlights the heroic nature of the rood, the dreamer’s gradual progression to optimism and the struggle of the people of the time to remove Pagan traditions in literature. The literary device kenning is a compound word built of a determinant and a base-word. The base-word represents the noun that the author replaces and the determinant gives the base-word its particular quality. Kennings are used to replace simple nouns with descriptive, poetic comparisons and images. Throughout ‘Dream of the Rood’ kennings create a vivid image that, besides describing the noun in an expressive way, expresses the heroic, strong nature of the rood and the struggle and pain of the crucifixion.
In line 144, the author uses the kenning “gallows-tree” to describe the rood after the crucifixion. The base-word of “gallows-tree” is “tree” and the determinant is “gallows.” Using the word base-word “tree” is literal in this kenning. The rood was once a strong, proud tree in the forest. It was scouted out by
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