The Essence of Doom in Beowulf in Retrospect
As the converse of Classic Greek mythology, Anglo-Saxon works, such as Beowulf, emphasize the role of doom as a primary downfall, as opposed to hamartia. These cataclysms are held as principal driving forces of the very being of Nordic mythology. Many critics declare that the sense of fated doom within the Nordic tradition does not convey as much literary eloquence as do the internal flaws that cause the downfall of classic epics of Greece. One may agree that many critics’ views are flawed in the judgment of evidence of the doom in this text. Beowulf’s theme of doom is lucidly evident by its stylistic use of language, the background culture of the Norse, and the nature of the text itself.
Beowulf was primarily performed orally for an audience, but throughout the process of it being written down, it gained some Christian aspects. The author of the text seems in tune with the fundamental aspects of the original culture. He uses fatefully dark undertones to emphasize the pessimistic notes of the original story. His words are strategically placed to best fit the flow and style of the story. He says “the monster’s mind was hot / with the thought of food and the feasting his belly / would soon know. But fate, that night, intended / Grendel to gnaw the broken bones / of his last supper” (Anderson 414-418). The fated doom is heavily evident within both the wording and biblical references. The fate implies that whatever the actions of both Grendel and anyone else, the doom is pre-determined and inevitable. The Last Supper reference makes an allusion to the Christian Bible, where Jesus Christ sits at a table with his disciples and prepares for his last supper. Perhaps, the author intended to imply that Grendel perhaps had somewhat an idea of his imminent defeat. The author also says “Once the afflictor / of men, tormentor of their days- what it meant / to feud with Almighty God: Grendel / saw that his strength was deserting...
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