Beowulf: Christian vs Pagan Influence Term Paper

1662 Words Apr 11th, 2008 7 Pages
The European epic, Beowulf, was written sometime in the eighth century in England. This time period provides us with an idea for the mixture of Christian and pagan elements because of an English society that was in the process of converting from Paganism to Christianity. Examples of Pagan and Christian traditions are presented all throughout literature. Many of the influences deal with what it going on in the world, when the piece is written. When Beowulf was written, St. Augustine had just come over to try and convert the Anglo-Saxon people to Christianity; although the conversion succeeded it was a shallow conversion, and there were still people following the Pagan ways. The fact that Christianity and Paganism are so closely combined in …show more content…
When a thief infiltrates the dragon’s lair and steals a gem-covered goblet, the dragon awakes with rage and terrorizes the Earth. The dragon’s rampage eventually targets the throne of Beowulf and his Kingdom. Beowulf confronts the dragon who spits fire with such an intense heat that it melts Beowulf’s shield to his armor (79-84). These battles fought with fabled monsters, such as Grendel and the dragon, are common examples of pagan influences in epic adventures as well as symbolic references to the challenges we must confront in life. Fate is still a common concept; one can still hear people talking about fate, how our life revolves around it, and if things happen it is because they are meant to. “Fate often delivers an undoomed earl if his spirit be gallant!” (441-442) Throughout the story, there are many examples of fate, this quote could be interpreted as meaning, fate can change at anytime and change life completely. There were many times where fate changed Beowulf’s life. Beowulf consistently conquers these challenges but continually participates in many other non-Christian deeds throughout the poem. He celebrates at feasts by drinking in excessive amounts and has an ongoing tendency to kill people and creatures throughout the country. Beowulf’s greatest pagan influence is his desire for being remembered and gathering wealth more than doing something out of charity for other people. The fact that Beowulf is cremated at the end of the epic also

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