Beowulf: Pagan Values Tied with Christianity

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The poem titled Beowulf was composed sometime between the seventh and tenth century in a language that is known as Anglo-Saxon. It incorporates many pagan themes and concepts, yet it also contains many references to Christianity. Although paganism and Christianity can be seen as unalike, the two aspects are brought together by the poet in order to show the need for grouping. The pagan themes, such as fate or the common goal of fame and heroism, raise questions in the religious community that could be misleading or misinterpreted without the Christian insight provided in the text. As a result, it is clear that this combination of pagan concepts and Christianity shown in Beowulf is for a Christian audience. In order to enhance the value of the poem Beowulf, the author reconciles pagan concepts such as fame, vengeance, and fate with Christianity. The pagan concepts play key parts in the storyline and are related to the components of Christianity in the poem. One of the pagan concepts depicted in Beowulf is fame. Other ancient texts, such as The Odyssey and The Iliad, show warriors who venture out far from home to accomplish heroic tasks and build fame. The poem shows Beowulf and other characters in the story to have the same urge. Beowulf is shown early in the story as “the mightiest man on earth, high-born and powerful” (p.15). The concept of fame is very important to him and to his people. After hearing of Grendel and his strength, Beowulf declares “to heighten Hygelac’s fame and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce sword…: hand to hand is how it will be, a life-and-death fight with the fiend” (p. 31). He wants to maximize not only his own fame but the fame of his king. He will fight Grendel equally matched and “perform to the uttermost what your people wanted or perish in the attempt, in the fiend’s clutches” (p.43). The pagan concept of fame is accomplished when Beowulf defeats Grendel and gives the arm of the creature to Hrothgar. Beowulf has proven his skills...
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