Beowulf is a Christian poem. The purpose of this article is to prove Beowulf ‘s Christianity by showing paganism in Beowulf , then showing Christianity’s superiority over paganism, and finally comparing Beowulf ‘s Christianity with today’s pseudo-Christianity. Beowulf was written in Old English sometime in the 700s AD . The audience for Beowulf would have been people who were very familiar with either Christianity or Paganism. In Beowulf , many characters express beliefs that indicate they are Pagan.
In lines 1849-1859 Hrothgar explains Beowulf ‘s respect for God: In every way you honor Him [God], Beowulf ; Be ever blessed in your going and coming [in life]. ” In lines 2087-2089 Beowulf shows his belief in Paganism by saying, “I have never before been afflicted with such a need to address God in prayer. ” Beowulf is questioning how he will survive the upcoming battle. He believes that only through prayer can he be victorious in this fight. Beowulf displays a strong sense of optimism when he states, “God is able to provide what we need,” except for victory in battle.
Beowulf also says, “We shall win honor from this war if God so wills–” meaning Beowulf ‘s honor would be determined by the outcome of the battle. Beo means “Bee” and Wulf means “Wolf. ” Beowulf is a pack-leader who takes care of those under his protection, as Beowulf does for the Danes. He also provides them with inspiration now that their king has been slain. Beowulf ‘s role as the protector is seen throughout Beowulf .
In lines 1369-1373 he says: “I shall take care to save your people from every type of danger, if it be in my power. Beowulf promised King Hrothgar victory over Grendel and fulfilled this promise. The story may have been altered later to make Beowulf a Christ figure because Christianity was becoming more popular. Beowulf ‘s great respect for God also suggest that Beowulf is Christian, especially when Beowulf fights Grendel’s mother, the demonized version of an innocent woman . Another example of Beowulf ‘s Christianity can be seen in lines 1634-1638: “Many a battle has come after Beowulf , I have survived so many.
During life, Beowulf was always generous with his strength; e made it known to every one. ” This shows Beowulf ‘s generosity and kindness throughout his life, qualities rewarded by God who gave him victory during all of his battles. The above example shows Beowulf ‘s Christianity, but Beowulf is not perfect. Beowulf commits two sins in Beowulf . First , Beowulf asks Hrothgar for his descendent’s hand in marriage although Beowulf already has a wife back home. This shows that Beowulf is slightly prideful because he wishes to increase his own power by marrying the king’s family member.
Second, Beowulf sleeps with another man’s wife and then kills him in front of her after Beo saves her life. This act shows no respect for marital vows and represents lust because Beo killed the lord out of anger due to the man sleeping with his woman. Beo does not show any sign of remorse when he kills the Lord. Beowulf ‘s Christianity is clear when Beo gives his gold to Unferth after Beo has killed Grendel. Beowulf explains why he does this in lines 1788-1790: “How sad that your mind is not as light as your words!
You know, whenever you had opportunity, you were always ready with an insult. ” This shows Beowulf’s respect and honor towards Unferth. Beo also claims responsibility for killing Grendel’s mother by saying, “God gave me strength against the demon; I finished her off with my own hands. ” This illustrates Beowulf’s Christianity because Beo is giving credit for his victory to God. Beowulf displays characteristics of both Paganism and Christianity in Beowulf. Beowulf was a pagan until Christianity became more popular.
Beowulf’s Christianity is best displayed when Beo fights Grendel’s mother although Beo was originally pagan. Beo also shows he is Christian by fighting monsters to honor God instead of winning battles for his own gain. There are other examples, but these two best encapsulate Beowulf’s understanding of Paganism and Christianity.
Beowulf’s life has many parallels with Jesus Christ’s life: – He gave up a throne to live a life of service as an ordinary man, much like how Jesus came down from Heaven to be an ordinary man – Beowulf was betrayed by someone close, much like Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus Beowulf sought revenge for that betrayal, much like how Jesus sought to bring undo suffering on those who betrayed him – Beowulf fought monsters to protect the innocent just as Jesus sacrificed himself to save people from eternal pain. Beo was able to defeat Grendel and his mother with God’s help just as Jesus used God’s power during his resurrection – Beo sought to comfort Hrothgar after Beo killed one of his subjects, much like Jesus elevated humanity through forgiveness. Beo represents not only Christianity but also Paganism in Beowulf.
Although he is considered Pagan at first Beo begins to follow Christianity after Beo fights Grendel’s mother. Beowulf is one of the first examples of early Christian themes in English literature; the author uses Beowulf’s life as a parallel for Jesus Christ’s life, and Beowulf fights with God’s help like Jesus did during his resurrection when he fought Satan and sin, bestowing victory upon humanity. Beowulf was generous when Beo gave Unferth all of his treasure like how Jesus was generous when he promised salvation and eternal happiness in Heaven to sinful people who repent their sins.