Beowulf: Pagan Tale With Christian Additives

Essay by MccaddenSucksUniversity, Bachelor'sA, June 2004

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By Lee A Zito

Beowulf, a poem that dates back to approximately 1000 A.D., demonstrates heroic ideals of the Anglo-Saxon people. The poem is of pagan origin and was orally passed through generations until written down in Old English as a manuscript. Both the author and transcriber are unknown, although it is logically believed that the transcriber was most likely a monk or holy man because clergy were the only people who were educated during those times. This is where the reader is presented with a difficult conflict within the literary flow of Beowulf.

Being a poem that is rooted in pagan folk-lore, religious beliefs of the character's in Beowulf seem to clash when Christian beliefs, as well as references to Biblical scripture, are incorperated within the perdominently pagan tale. Christianity, a monotheist religion, is basically the extreme opposite of Paganism. The two religions differ so much that the beliefs, as well as the customs followed by most Pagan religions, directly break firm commandments and rules set in Christianity.

Having the main characters appear to be believers of both religions continuously confuses the reader and disrupts the flow of the poem. Since Beowulf originated as a pagan poem, it then makes sense that the Christian elements were brought to the poem later, possibly at the time of it's first transcription by a Christian monk.

Pagan elements are presented in the Beowulf's super-hero representation. Beowulf is literally depicted to readers as thee super human. When it comes to saving the Danes from Grendel, Beowulf believes it is up to him to fight the evil creature. He depends on his own strength as well as his battle skills to slay the beast.

Then, the already mighty warrior calls upon the one true god or "Holy Lord" to help him in...