Essay On Religion In Beowulf

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At the time of the writing of Beowulf the Anglo-Saxons were in a period of cultural transition. Their predecessors, the Celts and Britons, had been conquered by the Romans prior to the Anglo-Saxon invasion. This resulted in a religious clash between the native Paganism and the newly introduced Roman Catholicism. This clash of religious beliefs in the Anglo-Saxon culture can be observed in Beowulf, and an understanding of their religion as a whole can be gleaned from it. The epic battle scenes, the characterizations, and the conversations between characters reveal that the Anglo-Saxon religion primarily consisted of Christian beliefs, with some Pagan ideas. Through the epic battle scenes, the author emphasizes that even though God wills the …show more content…
This can be observed during the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mom when the poet states that “holy God / decided the victory” (1553-1554). This common Christian belief that God partakes in everyday activities and helps out his believers reflects the major role of Christianity in the Anglo-Saxon Religion. Their culture must have been heavily influenced by Christianity if they believed in this key principle. The belief that battles are determined by God can also be seen earlier in the poem when Beowulf is fighting Grendel, and it is proclaimed that Grendel “[whom] had given offense to God / found that his bodily powers failed him” (810-811). When the author states that Grendel’s powers fail him directly after stating that Grendel gave offense to God, he implies that Grendel’s powers failed him because he offended God. This belief that offending God will never bode well for one clearly coordinates with Christian values, therefore emphasizing the importance of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon Religion. While it can be …show more content…
For example, the author describes Beowulf’s “mighty strength” as a “wondrous [gift] God had showered on him” (1270-1271). In this tale, Beowulf’s traits are meant to embody the desired traits of the Anglo-Saxons, as he is the epic hero of the story. By claiming one of these highly valued traits as a gift from God, the poet establishes the significance Christianity played in the Anglo-Saxon religion, and symbolizes Beowulf as a force for Christian good. Something parallel to this can be seen in the characterization of Grendel, when the author describes him as a “fiend out of hell” who dwells “among the banished monsters, / Cain’s clan” (100-106). By introducing this monster as a descendant of Cain, a biblical character who slew his brother, the author relates this horrendous monster to sin and evil in Christianity. This contrasts with Beowulf’s Characterization, and introduces the conflict between good and evil, a very Christian belief. Throughout all the Christian characterizations there are some scattered Pagan ideas as is evident when Beowulf reverts back to more Pagan ways when he returns to the Geats. This is evident throughout his speech to Hygelac about his time in the Danish lands, specifically when he mentions a dead thane that “fell as fate ordained” (1277). In his account to the Geat king no Christian references are made,

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