Hrothgar and Humility
The epic tale of Beowulf has been around for centuries, yet the first English edition did not appear until 1833. Ever since, this historical piece of literature has been the topic of discussion and debate of many scholars. One of the most popular issues is the use of Christian themes throughout the story. Many argue that the story was originally penned as a pagan tale, but modified throughout the years to adapt to Christianity. Regardless of when Christianity entered this poem, whether it is from the very beginning, or sprinkled in over time by some well-meaning monk, the underlying Christian themes are present and extremely relevant.
Almost immediately it is possible to comprehend that the character of Beowulf is bold, daring, physically powerful almost to the point of being super-human, and proud to the point of being slightly arrogant. He exudes self-confidence. His reputation exceeds him in most kingdoms. These qualities blur the Christian intent of his deeds. He wants to be the champion and save others from evil, but only in efforts to add to his own legend. Occasionally, he will give thanks to God for assisting him in the victory of a battle, but he places most of the credit on himself. The true reward of helping others is lost on him. His main interest is fame and treasures.
In the poem, Hrothgar, king of the Danes, and his kingdom are plagued by a malevolent descendent of Cain, known as Grendel. Grendel is a truly evil demon, who prays every night on Hrothgar’s subjects. He is a terrifying peril that no one in the kingdom can defeat. Beowulf learns of this monstrosity, and sets sail with his troops to come to Hrothgar’s aid. Hrothgar is beyond pleased that Beowulf is there to champion his people. Not long after his arrival at Herot, he battles Grendel and annihilates him in a gruesome battle. Grendel’s mother sets out to avenge her son’s death and Beowulf defeats her in battle as well. Hrothgar expresses his...
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