Pagan and Christian Concepts of Fate in Beowulf Essay

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The author of Beowulf incorporated the pagan and Christian concepts of fate to promote a system of monarchy where power is passed on through heirs as opposed to the system where the greatest, strongest warrior claims the throne. By attributing accomplishments to fate and declaring them to be acts of God, the author makes the pursuit of glory less attractive. This new interpretation of fate shows how the gathering of fame and glory can lead to more violence, which in turn makes glory less desired. If glory is no longer a highly held value in this society then the system no longer functions. Once the system is made illegitimate, there is a necessity for a new kind of system to be instituted. Throughout the entire poem we are told that …show more content…
If God has the ultimate say and can completely control the outcome of the fight, then Beowulf gets no credit for his accomplishments. This isn't the only time that Beowulf denies himself of glory, and attributes his success to God's intervention. After surviving the battle with Grendel's Mother, and returning with her head on a post, Beowulf tells the king, "It was hard-fought, a desperate affair that could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal" (115). In this statement not only does Beowulf give the credit to God, but he tells us that he would have died if God had not given him help. This attributing of accomplishment to God's plan eliminates the idea of glory, and makes Beowulf a selfless warrior. This causes a problem for the warrior-king system, and this becomes obvious when examining the way which the system functions.

We can see how the Warrior-King system works when we look at the story of Shield Sheafson. In the beginning of the story they tell us about Shield who as "wreaker of mead benches" took control of the outlying coasts (3). Here we are shown that power is accumulated through violence and not diplomacy or inheritance. The problem with a selfless warrior is that the system of governance is based on passing power on to the most glorious warrior and if there is no glorified hero then there is no one to lead. The

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