Beowulf: The Bible Of The Early Germanic Tribes

1023 words - 5 pages

In Beowulf, one of the most important themes conveyed is the difference between good and evil. From adolescence cultures mold their youth towards accepted values and ideals; showing them the distinction between what they consider right and wrong. During the time of transcription of Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon tribes were undergoing the transformation from early Germanic paganism to Christianity. Therefore, during this time there was a shift of current standards of the time. Clergy members, who were responsible for the transcribing of this epic, used the text as a gateway to promote Christian values into this emerging Anglo-Saxon culture. As a result, through out Beowulf, there are various ...view middle of the document...

However when he is portraying Grendel, the words “glut” (443) and “gloating” (448) are used. These words are associated with Christianity’s seven deadly sins, which if committed will condemn the sinner to an eternal lifetime in hell. Similarly, in the scene of Grendel and Beowulf’s encounter, more parallels to Grendel as Satan are evident. Firstly, Grendel is referred to as “God cursed Grendel” (711); in the bible the devil was previously an angel known as Lucifer who was cursed by God to spend eternity in hell. As a result of Lucifer’s exile he now serves as the “captain of evil” (749), just as Grendel does. Similarly to Grendel’s depiction, his mother is said to be a “menace”(1444), which is associated with acts of dangers and threats, acts that the devil carries out. Christ however, was known for his acts of compassion and his belief in non-violence which greatly differs from Grendel’s mother acts of “brutal[ity]”(1501). This antithetical description of Grendel’s mother ways of acting emphasizes her similarity to the devil. Also, when she is first introduced, there is a reference to “Cain”(1261) who not only killed his brother, but is the son of Adam and Eve, the cause of original sin and the introduction of evil into the world. It is through the use of these words that a connection can be drawn between the Biblical characters and the epic Beowulf.
Similar to the word choice of the text, there is also an important connection between the settings where the climax occurs and the kingdoms of Heaven and Hell. This relationship between Heorot and the Lake to Heaven and Hell can be inferred through the imagery and significance associated with each location. Mead Hall is where the nobility resides, and during the time of transcription, the nobility was responsible for exemplifying the values of that time. Through their actions of loyalty and protection to the king, they were able to acquire a place in the comitatus much like one would go to heaven if they followed Christ’s teaching. Also, when the...

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