Christianity and anglo saxon society represented in beowulf

Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The Importance of Establishing Identity As Beowulf is essentially a record of heroic deeds, the concept of identity—of which the two principal components are ancestral heritage and individual reputation—is clearly central to the poem.

Christianity and anglo saxon society represented in beowulf

Most often He has guided the man without friends" Throughout the story of Beowulfone finds many elements of Christian philosophy: However, there is also a strong sense of heroic pride within Beowulf which is at times in direct conflict with these Christian values.

Thus, we see the dichotomies of pride vs. But he also teaches the lessons of Christian philosophy: Throughout the story Beowulf repeatedly acknowledges God as his protector.

When Beowulf relates his battle with Grendel's motherhe states that "The fight would have ended straightaway if God had not guarded me" 1. Further exemplified by the powerfully stated "most often He has guided the man without friends" 1.

Christianity and anglo saxon society represented in beowulf

However, there is also a strong sense that God's protection must be earned; a warrior must first be true to his values, courage, honesty, pride, and humility and only then will he earn God's protection.

In addition to earthly protection, there is also the sense that all earthly good, be it success or wealth, derives from God. For example, when about to fight Grendel's mother in her cave, Beowulf sees a great weapon hanging on the wall.

But he does not take credit for this perception. The credit is given to God: And later in the passage, Hrothgar tells Beowulf that even the status of king is achieved through the grace of God. When telling of Heremod, a king who falls victim to pride and selfishness, Hrothgar tells Beowulf "he turned away from the joys of men, alone, notorious king, although mighty God had raised him in power, in the joys of strength, had set him up over all men" 4.

The historical setting of the epic Beowulf

And again, "It is a wonder to say how in His great spirit God gives wisdom to mankind, land and earlship. He possesses power over all things. At times He lets the thought of a man of high lineage move in delight" 5.

In other words, a king's earthly power is only an illusion. The true power lies with God. Any "delight" that a man enjoys here on earth is achieved only through the grace of God.

Moreover, Hrothgar tells Beowulf that earthly success, given by God, must be handled with humility and a sense of sharing or the earthly king will bring on his own doom.

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Hrothgar tells Beowulf of a selfish king: The phrase "he covets" is strongly reminiscent of the Christian Ten Commandmentsthat material desire leads to wanting more and more until nothing will suffice.

Thus, a good king is willing to share his earthly possessions; he is one who "recklessly gives precious gifts, not fearfully guard them" 5. Hrothgar tells Beowulf that life itself is a gift from God, that even the human body is "loaned" 5. Aristotle and Augustine There is a dichotomy of values in Beowulf: Beowulf is a man who boasts, yet he also has wisdom and humility.

On the one hand Beowulf is reminded that pride will bring destruction: Yet it is that very pride and boastfullness that help make Beowulf a heroic warrior capable of achieving the greatest of deeds.

The concept of the tragic flaw of which Hrothgar warns Beowulf was first expounded by the Greek philosopher Aristotlewith Sophocles' Oedipus Rex as the ultimate example in Greek literature.

However, as much as the Greeks spoke of the tragic flaw, there is still a strong sense of the heroic in their epic literature. Heroism and arrogance are to be admired as long as the hero does not strive too close to the gods and the heavens. It is not until well into the medieval period that Christianity reaches full bloom and the quality of heroic arrogance falls into disrepute.

The Christian philosopher St. Augustine helped to turn man away from this earthly arrogance and the desire for material wealth and success.

In Augustine's City of Godhe attacks pagan culture and its pantheon of gods, blaming them for the decadence of society.

Related Questions

It is Augustine's ideas that we see in Beowulftempering the heroic arrogance of the great warrior. However wide the dichotomy of values may be, Beowulf appears to have achieved the difficult balance between pride and humility.

For example, at the end of Further Celebration at Heorot Beowulf returns the sword Hrunting which turns out to be useless in his battle with Grendel's mother. But instead of taunting Unferth, Beowulf praises the sword: Beowulf is a mix of two ideals: Grendel is referred to as a descendant of Cain: In addition, there is a reference to the Great Flood that took place in Genesis:In the poem Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon warrior culture is represented by Beowulf's bravery and attitude toward war and fate.

He defeats Grendel and Grendel's mother single-handedly, when no else could. The Anglo-Saxon Heroic Code was the cornerstone of life for warriors living in the time depicted in the epic poem ''Beowulf''. The core values of the Heroic Code can be seen clearly in the poem.

Depiction of Anglo-Saxon Society in Beowulf The Old-English or Anglo-Saxon era extends from about to The Germanic tribes from the Continent who overran England in the fifth century, after the Roman withdrawal, brought with them a language that is the basis of modern English, a specific poetic tradition, and a relatively advanced society.

Christianity and anglo saxon society represented in beowulf

The Complex Hero in Beowulf - The story of Beowulf is one of the oldest examples of what society views as a hero. Though the story was written in Anglo-Saxon times, the credentials one would need in order to be considered by society a hero remain the same.

England is the largest and most populous constituent country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is located to the north-west of mainland Europe. Its inhabitants account for more than 82 percent of the total population of the United Kingdom.

England is often mistakenly considered the same as the United Kingdom, or the same as the island of Great Britain, which.

"Beowulf" reveals the essential values of the heroic warrior culture that characterizes Anglo-Saxon and other early Germanic societies. Their values uphold the warrior aristocracy, including loyalty and the high value placed on kinship.

- Department of English Language and Literature