Christian Elements in Beowulf Essay

1556 Words Sep 25th, 1999 7 Pages
Beowulf is one of the great heroic poems in English literature. The epic follows a courageous warrior named Beowulf throughout his young, adult life and into his old age. As a young man, Beowulf becomes a legendary hero when he saves the land of the Danes from the hellish creatures, Grendel and his mother. Later, after fifty years pass, Beowulf is an old man and a great king of the Geats. A monstrous dragon soon invades his peaceful kingdom and he defends his people courageously, dying in the process. His body is burned and his ashes are placed in a cave by the sea. By placing his ashes in the seaside cave, people passing by will always remember the legendary hero and king, Beowulf. In this epic the presentation of the story telling …show more content…
Beowulf's last monstrous foe is designated by the word "wyrm" meaning a serpent or worm, and the word "draca" meaning dragon. In the Old English poetry, the worm and dragon represent enmity to mankind. The worms who devour man's corpse after death, the dragons and serpents who receive his soul in hell, and the dragon of sin and mortality who rules over earth until Christ cancels for all time the work of the tempest. The Beowulf dragon is sufficiently snakelike, both in his appearance and behavior, to qualify as a Christian symbol. In Genesis of the Bible, the serpent is never clearly called Satan. The snake is an allegory for the devil much like the dragon is an allegory for the archfiend. Beowulf in his youth overcomes his foes with God's help. But even with God at his side, Beowulf, like all men, must die. Beowulf is an allegory of Christian salvation. There are many symbols that allude to Christian references in Beowulf; the fight with Grendel represents the salvation of mankind, the fight with Grendel's mother represents Christ's Resurrection, and the fight with the dragon resembles Christ's death. There is real conscious analogy between Beowulf and Christ. There is, for example, the familiar parallel between Hroogar's praise of Beowulf, "Yes, she may say, whatever, woman brought forth this son among mankind-if she still lives-that the God of Old was kind to her in childbearing" (), and the remark of a woman to Christ in Luke 11:27,

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