Beowulf

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In the classic epic Beowulf we follow the great hero from his time as a young boy to his final moments as King of the Geats. During this many traits of various characters are revealed to us, none however as in depth as what is revealed about the titular figure of Beowulf. This is done through a jumble of Pagan and Christian values that are being bounced between throughout the text. Many of his ‘softer’ virtues such as forgiveness, generosity and commitment, seem to stem primarily from the Christian values whereas his ‘harsher’ virtues such as bravery, resourcefulness, and determination seem to stem more from the Pagan/ Germanic values. This conflict stems directly from the era in which this epic was written. During a time when Christianity was still growing, people new to it were torn between this newfangled ideology and the old customs, a struggle that is persistent throughout Beowulf. Shortly after our hero arrives he is brought before Hrothgar to explain his intentions. It is here that that the struggle between the two ideologies is apparent. Initially we are shown the Pagan notion of bravery and bravado. Beowulf says:
I have heard moreover that the monster scorns in his reckless way to use weapons; therefore, to heighten Hygelac’s fame and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce sword and shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war board: hand to hand is how it will be, a life and death fight with the fiend. (43. 443-440)
Although Beowulf tries to explain away his challenge, saying that he is doing it for Hygelac, it is apparent that this is this Pagan gusto shining through. One can almost see him pacing the hall delivering a rousing battle cry, as that is the intention. He wants to impress the Danes to the point where they have no choice but to let him do as he pleases. He even goes so far as to suggest use of such petty thing would be cowardly in such a situation by saying “I renounce… shelter of the broad shield…” By referring to it as a item

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