Often, the term is used that someone or something is “blessed by God.” Typically, this is not a phrase that has a negative connotation: obviously being blessed by anyone would be a positive thing, but to be blessed by a god or gods speaks of divine intervention on one’s behalf, which is obviously a little more impressive than being told to have a blessed day by a sweet old lady. Beowulf believed himself to be blessed by the Lord, and the narrator makes a plain case throughout the epic that Beowulf is indeed blessed by God in all manners due to his courageous nature and great personal faith. Was Beowulf truly blessed by God? This is a difficult question to answer, but the narrator certainly seemed to believe that he was. To examine any good hero, a good place to start would be to examine their antagonist. In this case, we have Grendel. Grendel, the creature established to be an antithetical foil to Beowulf’s good, was described as a …. gruesome… cursed creature
(who) lived in a monster’s lair for a time
after the Creator had condemned him
as one of the seed of Cain – the Everlasting Lord
avenged Abel’s murder. (pg 76)
The story of Cain and Abel is well known: Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy and anger, thus committing the first murder ever, and then found himself condemned by God for his actions. Original sin goes to Eve, but Cain is the originator of mortal evil in the world. As one of the descendants of Cain, Grendel was cursed to be alone and live as an outsider, and was thus angered by the merry-making and rabble-rousing occurring at Heorot. The Scyldings decided to seek help. Strong men often sat
in consultation, trying in vain to devise
a good plan…
At times they offered sacrifices to the idols
in their pagan tabernacles, and prayed aloud
to the soul-slayer that he would assist them
in their dire distress. Such was the custom
and comfort of the heathen; they brooded in their hearts
on hellish things – for the Creator, Almighty God,
the judge of all actions, was neglected by them;
truly they did not know how to praise the Protector of
the glorious Ruler. (pg 78)
The narrator blames the Scyldings for their own fate in this section – clearly, were they offering up prayers for protection to the appropriate God, instead of their own heathen gods, they would receive aid and succor. As such, they knew not what they did, which drew the punishment of Grendel upon their heads. So, as such, the scene is set for the entrance of Beowulf: Grendel, the son of Cain, a Biblical figure, is attacking a pagan people who refuse to acknowledge God and are therefore punished for their ignorance.
So now, our true hero enters the scene. Beowulf travels to Heorot; his boat “… sped over the waves, urged on by the wind” (pg 79). This is an early indication of the blessings that Beowulf receives at the hands of God. We do not know yet of Beowulf’s piety or love of God, yet everywhere he and the Geats travel, the narrator points out that they have a quick and easy journey over the waves. When they departed Heorot, their boat … surged forward, butted the waves….
… the boat was not blown off its course
by the stiff sea-breezes. The ship swept
over the waves…
with its well-wrought prow sped
over the waters… (pg 121)
Travelling overseas with no complication whatsoever, especially when we later find out about the existence of many types of vile sea monsters and dragons, is a highly unlikely occurrence, as anyone who has ever so much as taken a road trip could tell you – much less a long overseas voyage, or anyone who took a Carnival cruise.
When he was informed of Beowulf’s arrival, Hrothgar stated that he was … convinced
that Holy God, of his great mercy,
has directed him to us… (pg 83)
Throughout the story, it seems as though Hrothgar as well believes in God, making it seem as though the original intention of the tale was to paint the upper crust of...
Cited: "Beowulf." The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology. Ed. Kevin Crossley-Holland.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 74-154. Print.
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