Beowulf: the Pagan & Christian Epic Hero

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Beowulf has both pagan and Christian influences. Throughout the story there are many elements of Christian teachings: that man survives only through the protection of God, that all earthly gifts flow from God, and that the proper bearing of man is to be humble and unselfish (, 2011). While many pagan influences appear in the poem, Christian overtones are more prevalent, exhibiting many elements of Christian heroism in the poem. An example is when Beowulf says “God must decide who will be given to death's cold grip” (Norton, lines 174-175).   He knows that God has already created an ending to this battle with Grendel, and he is lavished with peace. He shows true Christian character, bravery, and faith in the manner in which he fights his battles. Beowulf exhibits Christ-like behavior through his good heart and charity. Beowulf understands the Danes oppression by the evil monster Grendel; just as Christ knew of the oppression of the Jewish people. Both set out to free and save their people from the burdens of hardship. To free themselves from the monster, the Danes need a savior, and Beowulf, through his desire to disperse their suffering, comes to save them. A strong sense of heroic pride within Beowulf is also seen in conflict with Christianity. Beowulf is reminded by Hrothgar that pride, without humility, results in a tragic fall. He also teaches the Christian philosophy that wealth, accumulated through the grace of God, must be shared unselfishly (, 2011). Like many stories and poems written during this time, paganism and Christian values are intertwined. Beowulf moves seamlessly back and forth between the two worlds, showing himself to be a man living comfortably in two worlds. The Christian influences are easiest seen in the main characters dependence on God, even though he relies on his own strength to overcome his enemy, which is characterized as a pagan influence. Paganism is evident by the burial rites given in the poem, a direct...
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