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Honors British Literature
2 September 2009
Throughout the ages, literature has transformed in many ways. Although many elements have changed, there are still conceptual ideas and themes that are present in today’s writings that were also used in past literature. The epic poem, Beowulf, encompasses the dichotomy good vs. evil, which has been present in many literary works spanning from the earliest known literature to present-day writings. The correlation between good and evil is portrayed through the characters, the biblical allusions that appear throughout the text, and the author’s vivid imagery.

The theme good vs. evil is best portrayed through the characters. Beowulf and Grendel are the counterparts to each other; Beowulf is representative of good and Grendel is representative of evil. Grendel’s evil nature is expressed in the quote, “Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty hills and bogs, bearing God’s hatred, Grendel came” (Beowulf ). The feud between Beowulf and Grendel is also symbolic, as it depicts the discord between good and evil that resides on earth. Beowulf’s army of men illustrates the good in society as a whole, as Grendel’s family shows the evil in society.

Also present in Beowulf are many references to the Bible and biblical characters. The quote, “The Almighty drove those demons out, and their exile was bitter, shut away from men; they split into a thousand forms of evil- spirits and fiends, goblins, monsters, Kruse 2

giants, a brood forever opposing the Lord’s will, and again and again defeated” (Beowulf ), directly exemplifies the incorporation of biblical terms, and portrays the hatred between God and all forms of evil. Beowulf’s victory exhibits the power of good over evil, and suggests that the power of God is stronger than that of the Devil. The quote, “He never dared to touch King Hrothgar’s glorious throne, protected by God- God, whose love Grendel could not know” (Beowulf...
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