Realism Vs. Paganism In Beowulf

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Though the story of the Flood precedes it, the poet references the story of Cain first. Grendel, the monster that plagues Herot, is claimed to have been “born of Cain” (Raffel 6). Biblically, Cain became the original murderer by killing his brother Abel. He was subsequently banished by God for his crime; cursed to walk the earth alone. This is significant because Cain is considered to be a great source of evil. Being that Cain was human; Grendel must have been human in some small way. Yet, the poet stresses the expansive distance between himself and the people he terrorizes. This is not simply because Grendel is a monster, but because he is “banished by God,” just as Cain was (Raffel 106-107). Unlike the people in the poem, Grendel is completely abandoned by God. In creating …show more content…
Even Hygelac, the seemingly righteous king, is much closer to a German chieftain than a man of God (Moorman 7). The paganism is more subtle than the Christianity, but it is much more integral to the poem. In contrast to Wilson, Charles Moorman sees “the Christianity expressed in the poem as it has come down to us is not a part of its original design” (4). In saying this, he means that the poem began as a pagan story. Pride is grafted into the epic, not as a sin, but as a part of the warrior code of the pagans.
Beowulf has many small elements of paganism that have crept into the story. According to Christianity, pride is the original sin of Adam, the original man. In contrast to this, the Geats and Danes value pride as a part of their warrior code. Beowulf boasts about his feats of strength. When he faces Grendel, the poet goes to great lengths to mention the great strength that Beowulf possesses (Beowulf 131 a). Pessimism is a hallmark of Scandinavian paganism. These people lived in a time when wars, disease, and natural disasters plagued them. Their

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