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Beowulf: the Bible of the Early Germanic Tribes

  • Date Submitted: 05/03/2011 07:55 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 48.9 
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In Beowulf, one of the most important themes conveyed is the difference between good and evil.   From adolescence cultures mold their youth towards accepted values and ideals; showing them the distinction between what they consider right and wrong. During the time of transcription of Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon tribes were undergoing the transformation from early Germanic paganism to Christianity. Therefore, during this time there was a shift of current standards of the time. Clergy members, who were responsible for the transcribing of this epic, used the text as a gateway to promote Christian values into this emerging Anglo-Saxon culture. As a result, through out Beowulf, there are various biblical allusions that impersonate the two main extremes of the bible, Christ, who epitomizes good and the Devil, who embodies evil. This parallel between these two biblical figures can be seen through the characters of Beowulf and the two monsters who represent the nature of each entity.   Through the use of characterization and setting, this parallel can be seen, particularly in the descriptions of each respective character as well as the place in which each resides through out the narrative.
When the characters of Grendel, Beowulf, and Grendel’s mother are introduced, the terms that are associated with each of them portray a particular character in the bible. This portrayal not only can be seen as being directly related to Christ and the devil, but also to the values they each hold. When Beowulf introduces himself to Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, he describes himself with the words “triumph” (409) and “puryfing” (431). Similar to Christ, Beowulf triumphs over evil and purifies Heorot of Grendel’s malevolence. Also, Beowulf “renounce[s]” (426) the use of a weapon similar to the Christian renunciation of the devil, therefore ridding himself of the evil a weapon is associated with. However when he is portraying Grendel, the words “glut” (443) and “gloating” (448) are used....


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