Essay about the pagan

Submitted By h2Doplaytheymissgive
Words: 1382
Pages: 6

CC English
Pagan vs. Christian Influences in Beowulf At the time of its creation, Beowulf was influenced by Pagan rituals, deities and ideas, but by passing down the epic narrative word of mouth, an age of Christianity will have had a residual effect on the story. The mix of ideas is not a struggle for religious power in the story, but Paganism’s heroic ideals and Christianity’s self-sacrificing virtues blend to form a delicate mosaic that could have not been otherwise. Danish Paganism highly regards the concepts of fame, fate, and vengeance. These are highly evident in Beowulf, but within these are woven the Christian qualities of loyalty, humility, sacrifice for the good of others, and sympathy for those less fortunate. The story also subtly hints at the negative consequences of greed and pride throughout, also falling under Christian influence. Paganism today can be grouped by the belief that there is a pantheon of gods or deities, each controlling the fate of the world. Roman and Greek Paganism were hugely different northern Europe’s more magically based style. In Paganism, the theme is more peaceful, and its few warriors are known for their renowned deeds that could normally surpass a regular human’s limits, such as Beowulf’s. Christianity is not just about Jesus , but the belief of the entire Bible, all of its concepts and the usage of a moral code to live by. Such concepts of Christianity reveal themselves in the epic Beowulf, attracting the reader’s better natured side and appealing to emotions like sympathy, and ideals relating to preserving all life forms. By using the three key monsters, Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the dragon, there are moments that feed the Christian instinct. Not only appealing to the Christian audiences, the characters in Beowulf take on certain Biblical roles that similarities in like characters can be drawn to. Beowulf, being the underdog, travels to Grendel’s home field and slew the impossible beast. Further similarities are uncovered when Beowulf fights Grendel’s mother. The role of fame is lathered heavily in the plot of Beowulf. In fact, after setting up the beginning scene in Herot, fame is the first idea stressed when Beowulf tries to enter. Upon hearing of King Hrothgar’s plight with the fearsome demon, Beowulf comes from overseas to enlist on the front lines against it. But the guards into King Hrothgar’s town, Herot, are reluctant to allow him passage. To prove his sincerity, Beowulf boasts about his former triumphs and because of his fame, enters unadulterated, “Ah! Unferth, my friend…floating lifeless in the sea,”(530-558). Fame in Paganism, and to be famous according to Beowulf and other characters in the story, is to have great prowess and to accomplish many heroic deeds. Beowulf demonstrates how important fame is to him when he boasts. “Prince of the Geats...shoulder and all,” (830-839) shows after fighting Grendel he tears off his arm and uses it as a trophy in the great hall in order to receive more fame. This is where it can be argued that during his many battles, Beowulf fought because of one of two motives. He could have been fighting purely on the behalf of himself. When he heard a challenge, he came running, because he was on a power-ego trip where its expansion would never cease until he died. He didn’t care if others died, as long as he killed the monster, his fame would be boosted, and he would be the hero. Or, Beowulf could have done all of this sacrificially. Because of the Christian age , Beowulf is a good, accepted character, because he has character as seen here, “That this is one...from this hall,”(430-432). The struggle created is which force would overpower the other: the will to sacrifice yourself for the greater good, a Christian concept, or the want of more fame, a Pagan concept. If he was totally virtuous and valued another human life without thinking of his own demise then he could be paralleled to another Christian…