Beowulf The Epic Poem British Literature Essay

Treasures often go for centuries without having to be found. Plus the best ones often result from unknown origins. Beowulf, the epic poem in regards to a heroic Geat had gone untold and unappreciated for centuries until it was finally regarded in the first 1800's. Referred to as one of the greatest and most important Anglo-Saxon Literatures and written by an unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon poet, Beowulf proceeds to bring about many allusions and themes or templates which are of great literary value. In particular however, the poet of Beowulf uses an array of Christian themes merged in with some Germanic paganism in his epic poem.

In order to completely understand Beowulf, critics often look into the mystical poet himself. The fact that the Beowulf poet was a Christian is a continuing theme for many critics. For instance, ". . the Christian author who was responsible for providing the poem the general shape and shade. . "(Rogers 233). Rogers continues on to discuss the frame of mind of the poet for the poem and the materials which he used. It really is safe to expect that the poet didn't invent anything in the poem but instead, used the materials in ". . . his own goal, placing his personal emphasis upon it"(Rogers 233).

Rogers feels that the poet is evidently biased pro Christianity. "The poet saw the heroic history of the Danes and the Geats through the eyes of a Religious Anglo-Saxon. " The critic then goes on to give types of the various methods of the poet which suggest his Christian affect on the poem. The poet is portrayed to be a complacent Christian, one who believes in every things good, and is disgusted by the paganism of his time. The poet uses motives such as weapons, treasure, and society to his benefit in an totally Christian method. Unlike in other works of books, similar motives in Beowulf are used in a completely different method. Such as the sword, in Beowulf is melted away after doing just one single great deed, when in other books the hero would cherish it and do many great deeds. Treasure is also portrayed in a Christian way, instead of showing both attributes of treasure, which most other literature would have done, the poet only stresses the evils of treasure (Rogers 234-235).

Although the poet of Beowulf uses many Christian doctrines carefully and mostly successfully, it's his use of paganism, and the knowledge or to some, the lack of, that intrigues many critics. "No-one now questions that it was composed by a poet thoroughly versed in Christian and biblical practices, but whether its writer had the same amount of knowledge of the backdrop to his chosen subject matter matter--specifically, Scandinavian paganism--has been fiercely debated" (O'donoghue). In questioning the poet's knowledge and views on paganism, whether Germanic or Anglo-Saxon, many critics peruse the poet's resources, most of such as older literature available to the poet at that time.

O'donoghue continues on to investigate and compare different resources such as Old Norse-Icelandic literature and how the poet distorts and kilts it with ancient Germanic earlier.

Further criticism is made taken care of where the poet uses pagan resources. "Doubtless he was less disturbed than we could by vestiges of his pagan sources that lay awkwardly in the matrix of his Religious prepossessions" (Hamilton 105). It is most likely that the poet does this intentionally, and included a certain "underlying rule" all of which he made possible by the diction of the poem. Once the poet used words that got multiple meanings, or who's meanings were very flexible, it was he who possessed the advantage of knowing. Hamilton continues to criticize the poets further manipulation of heathen tales in his own point of view, that is to say in the Religious view. The poet presents ". . Scandinavians of per-conversion days and nights as orthodox Catholics;" Hamilton seen this as the poet deliberately changing "pagan Teutonic lore" into a Religious shade. The poet also have well never to show any signs or symptoms of his work, as he "avoided Christian worship or saints and simply presents his nobler agents as smart monotheists". But perhaps the poet needed to do that, perhaps he himself, or his audience although not agreeing to Anglo-Saxon worshiping ". . . wouldn't normally have understood a guy with no religious allegiance" by any means(Hamilton 105-107).

R. E. Kaske also talks of the poets use of paganism and Christianity in Beowulf. But unlike other critics, Kaske feels the driving push behind the entire poem is "sapientia et fortitudo", which is often vaguely translated as intelligence in either physical durability or courage. Karke talks of sapientia et fortitudo being the major theme and having all of the other topics, such as paganism and Christianity molded around it. Kaske is convinced "that the poet used this old ideal as a location of synthesis between Christianity and Germanic paganism" (Kaske 273). The method that your poet uses is a two-step method. First he draws aspects of both Christianity and Germanic paganism which relate with sapientia et fortitudo. Second the poet looks to take aspects of both traditions that comply the most with the point of view of the other. Hence, the Religious point of view is primarily derived from the Old Testament, and the poem has an Old Testament shade. As the " sapientia of the Old Law is more practically compatible with the intelligence of Germanic Paganism than the sapientia in the New"(Kaske273). Kaske then continues to dissect individual personas and weather their sapientia et fortitudo was more Religious or pagan.

Next we will explore the criticism of Beowulf the type, and the Religious influence which he's surrounded with. It really is logical to think, that because the poet has applied so many Religious topics in what probably are more aged heathen stories and Anglo-Saxon traditions, that the most Christianity would be portrayed through the hero, in this case Beowulf.

Perhaps one of the strongest correlations between Beowulf and Christianity is the clear features of Christ himself in the Beowulf figure. Allen Cabaniss carefully plots the specifics of Christ present in Beowulf especially in Beowulf's battle against Grendel's mommy. To begin, the place in which Grendel's mother lives has virtually identical features to hell. The bond between hell and the lake is future strengthened by ". . The statements that is a normal water weirdly aflame, reminiscent of the Apocalyptic 'lake which burneth with flames and brimstone:'"(Cabaniss 224). Next, as Beowulf prepares for battle and perhaps fatality, he does not mourn for his life, but instead tells Hrothgar what to do if he were to expire. "The parallel with Christ is even more impressive as Beowulf magnanimously forgives his opponent Unferth right before the plunge into the fen-depths" (Cabaniss 224).

Other styles, which Cabaniss highlights include the audience, or the Danes this way who expect that Beowulf have been kill. But his fellow Geates will be the only ones who the stand by position him, in the meantime the Danes "give up the vigil at the night hour of your day"(Cabaniss). This solo theme is a observed with Christ as he was dying on the cross being forgotten by all at the ninth hour aside from his few disciples. "Finally, there iis an indicator of winter's end and springtime'gs burgeoning as Beowulf comes up in triumph, which although, not strictly biblical, is one of the very most ancient of Easter Themes or templates" (Cabaniss 225). By making seven distinct connections between Beowulfs ventures and battles and Christ's fatality, harrowing of hell, and resurrection, Cabaniss efficiently sets forth undeniable evidence of the Religious motifs and ideas in Beowulf.

Although, Cabaniss's debate on the clear contacts between Beowulf and Christianity, counter arguments can be produced. Levin Schucking doesn't necessarily refute Cabaniss's promise of the poets stunning use of allusions to Christ, instead he speaks of instances where in fact the poet didn't grasps the Christian aspects of some things, which relate specifically to Beowulf the character.

It is hard interpret weather Schucking is criticizing the poet for not taking advatge of the death of Beowulf to employ a Christian mechanism or simply rendering the facts of Beowulf missing Christianity at his loss of life, and therefore making him appear less Christian than other critics would like to admit. In any event, Schuckings tone shows that he was extremely annoyed with the concept of Beowulf being "unchristian".

"For no point in time of human presence characterizes Christian and non-Christian attitudes so unequivocally as that of fatality"(Schucking 36). In inspecting Beowulf death, the critic highlights the correlations to Germanic heathen traditions rather than a Christian established theme. The dying Beowulf looks back again on his life, and "expresses satisfaction" for jogging his kingdom "so well that no opponent dared to attack it. " He also appears again on that fact that he was a good man, that be had not destroyed oaths, or determined any crimes. Too the untrained eyes this flash back of Beowulf might seem to be fairly Christian, but Schuckings points out two distinct feature of the field, one of which may be linked easily to Heathen Germans, and the other even easier as a violation of the Christian moral code.

One of the elements is the idea of "code of morals of the Germanic people" which is emphasized greatly when Beowulf alludes to presenting a larger deed or undertaking a responsibility. "Treue" is the Anglo-Saxon words which relates to truthful behavior, faithfulness in the sense of loyalty, or keeping of the promise. It really is most likely that the critic is wanting to get through the fact that this principle, is a original Germanic/Anglo-Saxon concept untouched by the Religious poet and his Religious manipulation.

Furthermore Schuckings talks about the "concept that no opponent dared to harm him (Beowulf)" (Schucking 36). This concept is not very Christian-like. Schuckings disappointment within the UN-Christian parting of Beowulf could very well be even more fueled with the dying heroes shade. "There is little harmony between your Christian penitential axiom that we are all sinners, and the beautiful take great pride in of duty-performed that emerges from the parting words with which he runs confidently to his judge"(Schucking 37). The lack of humbleness of Beowulf after his fatality shows a good distinction from Christianity in what appears to be a slide up by the poet.

As significantly as other allusions designed to Christianity in Beowulf, there are scores and scores. But one of the most overlooked is perhaps the allusion to Unferth. "In conversation of the Christian elements in Beowulf, it seems to get escaped the notice of scholars that the type of Unferth may provide an example of Christian allegory consciously utilized by the poet"(Bloomfield 155).

To fully understand the execution of Unferth in the poem, Bloomfield first dissects the name itself and it's really etymology. It really is widely believed to mean exactly as it is, Un- eaning not and ferth- interpretation serenity. However Bloodfield explores the probability of the "UN" being of a different so this means such as OE. Unhar signifying very old and ON. hunn interpretation (carry). The critic then further notes that Germanic titles, in a historical sense didn't or need not suggest anything.

Bloomfield then carries on to say that Unferth was an allegory, a mindful allegory of the poet.

Since it is widely accepted that Beowulf is regarded as "rex justus" or the just king, the poet thought a need relating to Unferth, a kind of "discordia" which would have to be defeated. "Prudentius says the storyline of how Discord wounds Concord and is killed by faith. Beowulf, however, defeats his antagonist, not by pressure, but by example, and Unferth hands over his sword, the sign of his might"(Bloomfield 162). By alluding to Predentius, the critic is trying to set a typical that he thinks the Beowulf poet is basing the portrayal of Unferth. Bloomfield consistently insists that the poet needed Unferth to be always a area of the coloring of the Christian design that was his poem.

Bloomfield continues on to trace the foundation and to find out the actual poet himself was considering, and the actual values and designs which he placed into the poem, and ultimately out of that the type of Unferth. Bloomfield seems that people over highlight the "the pagan aspects of the oldest known Germanic epic (Bloomfield 163).

"It is one of the Christian custom, not only in ambiance and ideals, and in periodic Biblical personal references, but at least partly and tentatively, in literary approach. A vintage Scandinavian story has been changed directly into a Religious poem. Viewing Unferth as shaded by the allegorical body Discordi, permits us to join Beowulf with the Religious Middle Ages in a way not hitherto possible"(Bloomfield 163-164).

As Bloomfield consistently remarks on the allegory of Unferth to Discordia, he makes little progress in directly hooking up the type to a Religious theme as he previously promised. It seems as if the critic is too caught up in the purpose of the poet, who he feels is so eager to utilize the poem in a Christian basis to the Britain world of the sixth century. Nevertheless Bloomfield opt for different route in bringing the character of Unferth to light and his connection to Discordia.

S. J. McNamme also brings forth an allegorical sense of the poem which is overlooked by many critics, but instead than focus on a specific personality, McNamme compares the poem to the Christian theme of Salvation and advises its use of theological dogmas from the brand new Testament. "It is suggested to wish in this analysis that as an allegory of the Christian tale of Salvation the Beowulf poem both echoes the liturgy and reflects New Testament theological dogma"(McNamee 332). McNamme remains on and speaks of the actual fact the poet naturally and deliberately "gone out of his way to exclude all the old pagan gods from an active devote his poem"(McNamee 332). He further continues on to say that the god that they do refers to in Beowulf is the God of the Christians. The critic points out certain key areas of the poem which relate with the Old Testament, in the same way Grendel the evil offspring of Cain, and the poems continuous upbringing of "Lord", "The Creator", "The human situation as a competition fallen from grace is hinted at, too. . "(McNamee 334) etc. Nevertheless the critic uses these styles as a accumulating process in which he proceeds to bring forth themes or templates from the brand new Testament. McNamme then persists to indicate the Christian storyline of redemption, which is the actual fact that man has lost his touch with god, man has "fallen from the state of innocence and contentment which is in powerful grasp of Satan. And thus man is helpless without a savior, a savior such as Christ. Within the poem it is almost an obvious coloration between Beowulf, as Christ having to save men from what can be perceived as evil in Grendel or even inside the Dragon (McNamee 332-335).

Beowulf is the task of a brilliant poet, whatever his motives, who searched for to bring forth a complex and contemplated tale for the generations. Whether a Religious who thought we would manipulate the stories of Heathen-German and Icelandic folk stories or an Anglo-Saxon protegee who got the many years of tales offered to him and decided to bring them to a new light, the Beowulf poet brilliantly portrayed various Christian themes and some Germanic traditions equally paganism into the epic poem.

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