Biblical Allusions In Beowulf

Topics: Cain and Abel, Jesus, Beowulf, Christianity, Book of Genesis, God / Pages: 3 (599 words) / Published: Nov 12th, 2015
In this passage, Beowulf is speaking to Grendel after tricking Grendel into thinking he is asleep. Grendel is in a state of shock after his “accident” and Beowulf has solidified his upper hand in the fight. Gardner uses biblical allusions in this passage to compare Beowulf and Grendel to central figures in Christianity. His use of the word “brother” alludes to the story of Cain and Abel, in which Cain slays his brother Abel, becoming the first murderer and casting Abel as a saint. Cain is ironically later killed after being mistaken for a wild beast. Grendel, in this instance, is established as the murderer with the phrase “Though you murder the world.” His story comes to the same fate as Cain’s; Beowulf views him as a beast and kills him. …show more content…
Beowulf uses long sentences, short clauses separated by commas, and gloomy diction while describing how Grendel sees the world. He describes Grendel’s view as a “dark nightmare-history” and states that Grendel sees “time-as [a]-coffin.” His somber description of Grendel’s history and view of time projects a critical and depressing light onto Grendel’s ideas. Additionally, the short clauses that these statements are expressed through do not allow for elaboration on Grendel’s view, discouraging the listener from agreeing with Grendel. These negative and terse descriptors contrast with the lengthy prose Beowulf uses to describe his own views. Beowulf believes that “the world will burn green [and] sperm [will] build again,” and sees “time [as] the mind, the hand that makes.” Beowulf, in describing his own views, employs the positive diction of “green,” “build,” “mind,” and “makes.” All of these words have to do with giving new life and resurgence. Beowulf pairs vivacious language with a longer sentence structure that allows for more elaboration to compel any listener to agree with …show more content…
The Bible is fundamentally opposed to nihilism, therefore, Beowulf’s position as a Christ figure warrants him to disparage Grendel’s ideas. The contrast within his speech refutes the doctrine of nihilism, supplanting it with the Shaper’s hopeful philosophy. The Shaper’s philosophy is based on self determination, as described by the line “Time is the mind, the hand that makes,” a sentiment analogous to the Christian thought that currently dominates Western society. This completes one of Gardner’s purposes in writing Grendel, “[going] through the main ideas of Western Civilization...with the various philosophical attitudes” (Stromme). Gardner later depicts Beowulf as he smashes Grendel against a wall and commands, “Now sing of walls!” Beowulf forces Grendel to acknowledge the existence of the wall by pressing him against it, this compels him to replace his solipsism with empiricism. When Beowulf forces Grendel to experience the tangibility of the wall, he must accept that experience can provide knowledge beyond self. Ultimately, Gardner creates a philosophical void within Grendel that enables his personal dogma to change. He fills this void with Christian thought and empiricism: the cruxes of modern Western

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