Beowulf and Christianity

Essay by Laska_plCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 2005

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It was a dark time and the devastating effects of war had taken their toll. Many had given up hope entirely that things would ever get better, that the land of present day England would cease its bloodshed. From the conquests of the Romans, to the Germanic tribes, to the Vikings, the people of the British Isles had been battered. They needed a hero, someone who represented strength, decency, and bravery. So came the story of Beowulf. Beowulf is a fictional hero of this time. He is not only a hero, but also a man of faith. His exploits are described as events that are ordained of God to bless the people. Beowulf is an instrument of God, an instrument of righteousness called by God to perform His will for the Danes. In stark contrast to his good, is the enemy, Grendel, the incarnation of pure evil. He is an enemy of the people, and according to the text even an enemy of God.

Grendel is a destructive and murderous "creature" that is completely opposed to all that is good. From certain passages we can see that the writers or editors of Beowulf intended to draw a religious parallel between these two characters of Beowulf and Grendel and the religious ones. The premise of good versus evil is quite easy to surmise, but the writers intended to use the Bible to elevate the tone of the story to a more spiritual than natural one. There are a few passages that this can be seen in. The first is passages describing Grendel and his beginnings. The second is selected dialogue from the Danes and Beowulf.

Below is a passage at the beginning of the story describing Grendel:

This gruesome creature was called Grendel, notorious prowler of the borderland, ranger of the...

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