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ENG 260 Module 1 DQ 1
One of the most well-known and most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature is the epic poem Beowulf. Written in approximately A.D. 1000 by an anonymous poet, this terrifying tale has had a major influence on later works, including J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere . This story quite clearly reflects a Christian viewpoint, as several key concepts are derived from the Christian doctrine (a system of beliefs based on Jesus Christ). Although these elements are accurately depicted in the text, I feel that they are rather unorganized and do not completely flow with the story overall.
The Christian perspective in Beowulf manifests itself in the theme of salvation and Christ-like characteristics that contrast with the demonic Goths. However, elements from Christianity, notably from the Old Testament (which came before Christ), are evenly meshed into certain aspects of the story. For example, the fight against Grendel is likened to the fight between David and Goliath. The helmet given to Beowulf by Hrothgar is reminiscent of the way God clothes Adam and Eve. And, As Christians, we all know that Christ was killed on a cross because he committed no sin. In this case, however, Wiglaf sees no blood on Hrunting and believes that killing Grendel will “make amends” for his father’s pride. Unlike Christ, however, Wiglaf did not repent of his sins after he believed in God; therefore he lost his soul as if he never knew him.
“Beowulf” was originally an orally transmitted poem from pre-Christian Germanic culture. What specific elements in this poem reflect a Christian point of view? Do you think these elements are well integrated into the story? Why or why not?
Please use specific examples from the text.