The Dream Of The Rood: An Old English Poem

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The Dream of the Rood is an Old English poem known for its depiction of one of the most significant events in human history: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. When compared to the Bible, The Dream is seen to deviate - at times rather significantly - from the traditional account as told in the Gospel of Matthew. The poem’s narrative style, sense of characterisation and use of language form a description that is seemingly far removed from the Gospel. However, these differences exist predominantly on a stylistic level, thus it may be argued that The Dream does project the Gospel’s central message, only doing so through a poetic framework.

The narrator in The Dream involves itself with the story by using the first person, whereas the narrative
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Furthermore, using the Rood as a means to express human suffering encourages us to reflect on the anguish Jesus would have felt, as both Christ and the Rood are assimilated to such a profound extent. Matthew’s account in the Bible does not involve any sense of such personal involvement, in fact it lacks an emotional dimension altogether; yet we still come to regard Christ with a powerful sense of reverence. As Jesus hangs from the cross, Matthew recounts the plea he makes to …show more content…
Having been relieved of its duties as Christ’s retainer, the Rood no longer exists to bear the Lord’s suffering, and instead becomes a poignant symbol of self-sacrifice. The use of the words “bedrifenne” and “forwundod” in depicting spilt blood illuminates the barbaric nature of crucifixion, hence both Jesus and the Rood earn our upmost respect in having endured such adversity in the name of sacrifice. It is important to note that where The Dream makes highly poeticised descriptions, the Gospel simply states “[…] they crucified him.” The lack of description here is done deliberately to prevent digression from the universal Christian message of achieving redemption through sacrifice. The Gospel recounts the moment immediately after Christ’s death upon the

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