Christian Symbolism in Beowulf Essay examples

1562 Words Sep 24th, 2008 7 Pages
Christian symbolism in Beowulf within the poem Beowulf, the poet utilizes the Christian religion to symbolize the elements of good and evil and Heaven and Hell. Beowulf is the oldest known English epic poem. The manuscripts date back to about 1000 A.D., when two scribes wrote it down for posterity. The poem was handed down from the Anglo-Saxon period, and through the retelling of the poem, it changed a little each time. The poem creates an oral depiction of an epic hero who strived to fight against the forces of evil. There really was a “historical” Beowulf who helped the Geats and Danes fight off pirates, but he was neither King of the Geats nor Danish hero at any time. In fact, he was not considered a man of any extraordinary qualities, …show more content…
With Beowulf’s life at stake, “God, who sent him victory, gave judgment for truth and right, Ruler of Heavens, once Beowulf was back on his feet and fighting”(630-632).

God exercised His will and intervened in the fight to set good above evil. As Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother, a divine light shone down from the heavens. The poet states that “As though burning in that hall, and as bright as heavens own cradle, lit in the sky”(647-648). Beowulf knew that he was a great fighter, but he also knew that God was still in control and could change his successes to failures and his very life to death. “My hands alone shall fight for me, struggle for life against the monster. God must decide who will be given to death’s grip” (172-175). The Anglo-Saxons believed that “life was a struggle against insuperable odds and that a man’s word or lot would be what it would be” (Chickering 269). Basically, the Anglo-Saxons believed that whatever happened in a person’s life was what God had already thought of and planned for. God knew that Beowulf’s battle with the dragon would be his last, therefore, God’s will played a tremendous factor in Beowulf’s victories. The three battles are significant because they were not against men. If they were against men, then his motives and actions might have been portrayed differently. As it turns out, his battles were against evil monsters that represented everything that points to evil.

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