September 7, 2012 analysis of christian and pagan themes in beowulf the heroic poem, beowulf, written circa ninth century after the common era (c e), presents a bloody chronicle of a king’s role in the violence and tumultuous germanic tribes shortly after the roman empire’s expulsion from the. Paganism in the epic poem beowulf is presented through the lens of medieval christian ideology by the beowulf poet as such, while examples of historical pagan practices are present, they are tempered from the point of view of the beowulf poet and his own culture and religion, which may or may not have been centuries after the story of beowulf actually originated.
Eng 201 september 7, 2012 analysis of christian and pagan themes in beowulf the heroic poem, beowulf, written circa ninth century after the common era (c e), presents a bloody chronicle of a king’s role in the violence and tumultuous germanic tribes shortly after the roman empire’s expulsion from the low countries of northwestern europe. Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work the importance of establishing identity as beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, the concept of identity—of which the two principal components are ancestral heritage and individual reputation—is clearly central to the poem.
This conversion from paganism to christianity mixed a lot of the elements many anglo-saxons still held on to their pagan beliefs, but simply tried to reconcile these beliefs with christianity this same attitude is apparent in beowulf we frequently see themes such as fate and fame, which are strong pagan beliefs. Throughout the poem, the poet strains to accommodate these two sets of values though he is christian, he cannot (and does not seem to want to) deny the fundamental pagan values of the story the difference between a good warrior and a good king over the course of the poem, beowulf matures from a valiant combatant into a wise leader.
Beowulf illustrates numerous biblical references and christian influences, while simultaneously reflecting a core of germanic pagan customs christianity and its religious elements, alongside, pagan customs and practices, play a fundamental role in the heroic poem, beowulf’s narrative. Though beowulf is almost entirely pagan there are certain unexplained christian references that seem out of place - pagan and christian themes in beowulf introduction while are no actual references to jesus christ there are some references to god that don’t seem to go along with the rest of the story. Beowulf's victory is couched in medieval christian imagery, and his motivations and successes are aligned with the medieval christian idea of god and righteousness, while grendel is depicted as being demonic, a pagan figure who opposes christian ideals. 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. Litcharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in beowulf, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work because of its complicated origin, beowulf has elements of both pagan germanic culture and christianity.
Christian and pagan ideals are the motivation for vengeance in grendel's mother's attack it is hard to ignore the christian and pagan elements of beowulf these elements, that have been so uniquely combined in the poem, define the heroic warrior, beowulf, and the evil menace, grendel's mother.
Although the poet can't get away from the fact that his hero, beowulf, would have been a pagan, he can suggest that beowulf's trust in god translates easily into a christian context the only specific references to christian stories are some shout-outs to the old testament story of cain and abel. But he also teaches the lessons of christian philosophy: that wealth, accumulated through the grace of god, must be shared unselfishly throughout the story beowulf repeatedly acknowledges god as his protector. Although primarily a pagan poem, beowulf contains christian allusions that cannot be ignored there is no mention of jesus in beowulf, and references to god seem based on the testament rather than the new.