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Religious Dissonance Within Beowulf

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Throughout the epic "Beowulf" the clash between monotheism and polytheism is evident due to the wide religious belief spectrum it envelops. Allusions to Christianity and Paganism show up constantly throughout its text and create a dissonance in values and symbolism through the duration of the poem.

The protagonist of this epic, Beowulf, starts off not as a savior of his people but as a lowly druid seeking to prove himself on the field of battle such as Jesus started as a carpenter from a poor family from Nazareth. At first glance, it is apparent that Beowulf, a pagan warrior is depicting a Christ-like entity. We are told at the beginning of the story that Beowulf is "a Wendel chief renowned as a warrior, well known for his wisdom". This statement suggests that Beowulf is a pagan character, for he is a warrior; nonetheless, aside from being boastful and egotistic, the poet is depicting Beowulf as a man of wisdom, a man like Christ. Towards the end of the poem, for example, the poet reveals that Wiglaf, "a comrade shoulder to shoulder with his lord," was the only one who did not abandon Beowulf. Here the reader can clearly see a relationship between Beowulf and Christ, for in the Bible, Peter was the only apostle who loyally waited for Christ to return from the Garden of Gethsemane. This is meant to exemplify the importance of comradeship in which the Bible constantly tries to get its readers to embrace. Another example of Christianity being fused into the story occurs when the twelve members of King Beowulf's entourage flee in the face of peril, this gives an allusion to the twelve disciples of Jesus and how they fled after being persecuted for believing in Jesus. Beowulf also mirrors Christ due to the fact that he was the Ð''savior' of the Danes and the Geats, as Christ was the savior for his people. Moreover, Beowulf had the strength to tear Grendel's arm, and the capability to fight underwater, just as Jesus was capable of walking on water, and parting the seas. Overall, one can clearly see that the poet incorporated these Christian characteristics to allure the reader into admiring the Pagan characters. Beowulf and other characters in the story constantly make references to God. For example, when facing Grendel, Beowulf relies on God alone to protect him, as he states, "Whichever one death fells must deem it a just judgment by God". Another reference to God is made when Hrothgar states "Now Holy God has, in His goodness, guided him here to the West-Danes, to defend us from Grendel".



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