The writing of the poem Beowulf

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The writing of the poem Beowulf is a heroic narrative that incorporates multiple elements of the Anglo-Saxon tradition. The writing of the poem took place after the Anglo-Saxons had become Christians, even though they were governed by the ideals of paganism. The result was a significant conflict of ideas and uncertainty in the way the poet articulated himself in the course of covering the subject. In exploring the topics of good warriors and evil warriors, the heroic code and value structures, and the general theme of the identity of the Anglo-Saxons, the poet covers the contrast between Christian and pagan philosophies. One of the prime features that create a discord between the two beliefs is the concept of God versus the element of fate. Christian believe that throughout God’s will, everything is possible and that every human being has been factored in God’s plan and so humans have the option of choosing to obey God. Contrastingly, the pagans believe that the fate is more of a virtue where there is more emphasis on the supernatural being as the controller. The contradiction is apparent when the poet says, “and so the devil dark urgings wound him, for he can’t remember how he clung to the ratting wealth of his world, how he clawed to keep it, how he earned no honor, no glory…how he forgot the future glory God gave him at his birth, and forgetting did not care” (Beowulf 1747-1751). It is thus noted the author’s views here tend to vary with respect to time which is a literary approach (Bressler 110). It shows that people tend to cling on to money and fame oblivious to the fact that the reason they have the luxury could be from God’s intervention.

It is also worth noting that the discord between the two beliefs is apparent when the poem covers the subject of violence and love. The theme of violence plays a major role in the poem as the in characters engage in confrontations at many levels (Cory 3). Some of the violence had benefiting outcomes as it is noted when Beowulf engages in fighting the two destructive and killer demons. He ended up helping the society because of the violence after Grendel and his mother are killed, which benefits the Danes. When Beowulf kills Grendel, the author writes, “I ended his reign” of terror, misery and “avenged his crimes” (Beowulf 2005). The manner in which he boasts killing the demon makes it look like he as full of pride, which is a pagan virtue. Thus, the conflict between violence and love for the people ended up creating a feeling of Christianity and pagan beliefs clashing.

The last relevant feature of Christianity beliefs and pagan outcomes being apparent is noted in the exploration of the revenge and forgiveness aspects. The primary reason for Beowulf’s fighting was that he was seeking revenge for the Danes. This is a pagan approach that ends up having a Christianity-defined result. The primary outcome was that Beowulf was trying to forgive his friends rather than see them in misery. The author writes, “to avenge our friends, not to mourn them forever” (Beowulf 1385). The feature thus constitutes Christian virtues as the whole idea is about forgiving is defined in Christianity. Overall, while he was seeking revenge, the Christianity virtue came in which the reader perceives the outcome that the Danes felt.

The use of the Christian and the pagan elements is critical on various levels as defined by the background of the poem. The first outcome is that it enables the reader to make a comparison between the Pagan and Christian beliefs during the time of the writing of the poem. Furthermore, the approach taken by the author enables the reader to understand that historically, the new reform that was perceived to Christianity was happening but the Kings who were influential were still keeping the people to the same traditionally and pagan views (Cory 44). It is especially important because the author realizes that it is a feature of literature because old poems are retold countless times and it is likely that the reading is just as outcome of the tweaking effect. It is thus seen that the effect is that of a different people having divergent inputs that can be understood as district Christian and pagan values.

In summary, it is worth highlighting that the poem by the Anglo-Saxons titled Beowulf is a piece of literary that explores the principles of paganism and Christianity in way that makes one substitute the other. There are many incidences that make this observation relevant including the God and fate distinction, the understanding of love and violence, and the variation between forgiveness and revenge in justifying the means and outcomes. It is thus noted that the poem is relevant as it displays the transition it took the people at the time to shift from their pagan values towards embracing Christianity. Overall, the poem is significant is shows that the while someone could be acting in a worldly or evil manner, they could as well be glorifying God.

Works Cited

Beowulf. Thorkelin, 1815. Print.

Bressler, Charles. Literary Criticism: An Intro to Theory and Practice. 2nd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Prentice-Hall, 1999. 104 -113

Cory, Eleanor. “Bravery, Honor, and Loyalty as Morals in Beowulf.” Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (2010): n. pag. Web.


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