Professor Michael Pegausch
15 April 2013
Beowulf: Christian Elements
Beowulf is a poem that has been told over time repeatedly. This poem dates back as far as the ninth century and "recalls a heroic age in which monsters stalked men by night, dragons guarded hoards of precious gems and heirloom swords, and heroes carried out great deeds of warfare that would be commemorated by song and feat." (Heaney 107) There is an undeniable presence of Christianity throughout the poem. Although the poem does not have a clear "Christian perspective," it does have some Christian references; "the monstrous Grendel is said to be one of 'Cain's Clan,' and is thus identified as an outcast from humanity in specifically biblical terms." (Heaney 108) The Christian elements that are present throughout Beowulf are the effects of the acknowledgement of God, the examples of the loss of faith, and the unselfishness of Beowulf.
In Beowulf, the acknowledgement of God is heavily noted throughout the poem. When the people of Herrot experience the wrath of Grendel, it is due the fact that "the Almighty Judge of good deeds and bad, the Lord God, Head of the Heavens and High King of the World, was unknown to them." (Heaney 116) When Beowulf speaks at the celebration at Herrot, he says that "if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal."(Heaney 150) In addition, as Beowulf returns to his homeland, Hygelac says, "so God be thanked I am granted this sight of you, safe and sound." (Heaney 157) The poem has many other references to acknowledgement of God; some are good and acknowledge him in praise and others offer the knowledge that without acknowledgment there is punishment.
Beowulf offers several examples of the loss of faith within the poem. The people of Herrot are terrorized by Grendel because they choose to put their faith in pagan ways and choose to vow "offerings to idols" which is "heathenish hope."(Heaney 116) Also, when...