Pagan elements in beowulf essay


Popular Essays Paganism In Beowulf

In Anglo-Saxon and Norse society, the holmgang — the traditional duel for settling disputes of honor — was considered very important to maintain the balance of social harmony Day. For Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, the need to slay Grendel is not just from a need to protect his kingdom, but to avenge the destruction of his hall at Heorot and the death of his thanes retainers at the hands of Grendel Heaney, Even the demonic mother of Grendel seems bound by this code, when she seeks revenge for the death of her son at the hands of Beowulf and his cohorts Heaney, The most critical remnant of Anglo-Saxon pagan social relations within Beowulf is the aforementioned concept of honor.

Even at the end of his life, Beowulf is not concerned about salvation or accession into Heaven, but instead is more concerned with having fulfilled an honorable life that is worthy of posthumous prestige Heaney , His death is an explicitly pagan one, with a traditional cremation on a funeral pyre bedecked with gold and treasures, rather than the simple Christian burial rites of the time which were more concerned with the glories and riches awaiting the dead in Heaven, not their earthly possessions.

Example research essay topic: Pagan Elements In Beowulf - 1,153 words

Although the poet that put Beowulf to paper was almost certainly a Christian, the society that he inhabited was not completely Christianized itself, and the content and social interactions within the poem make this quite clear. While there is much talk of God, Cain and Abel, and divine rewards, there is never a specific mention of these things being exclusively Christian elements of the story. Thus, one cannot say that Beowulf is a Christian poem, but a tale that grew out of a society in transition from pagan to Christian. Slade, Benjamin.

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Beowulf was originally compose in a pre-Christian era. It was not until the poem was written down, by what appears to be a Christian monk the Beowulf poet , that allusions to Christianity were added. Your task is to bring to light the original pagan beliefs are still reflected in poem and what Christian beliefs have been added.

Find evidence of pagan elements. The discussion of the poem in you text book and in the Raffel translation speak a number of pagan traditions, such as blood feud, loud and prideful boasting, family and tribal loyalty and ceremonial gift giving. Find examples of these elements and record them in a list, outline, graphic organizer or any other prewriting tool you are most comfortable.

Find evidence of Christian elements. Search out instances of a Christian view of the world that offsets or contradicts the pagan view. Christians, although they accept the existence of evil, are optimistic about the eventual triumph of good through God's love.


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The believe that God, not fate, controls human destiny and that although physical death is inevitable, the soul lives eternally. What evidence can you find of the Christian view the God will defeat evil?

Beowulf Is A Pagan Work Essay

What evidence can you find of the Christian view that God, not fate, controls human destiny? What evidence can you find of the Christian belief that physical death is not the end of life? Consider and analyze the combination of these opposing viewpoints. How does the Beowulf poet assimilate his pagan heritage and his Christian views? Why do you think the poet added Christian elements to the poem?

How would the tone of the poem change if the Christian elements were removed? What do you think is the effect of combining both Christian and pagan views?

Writing: Your essay will consist of three basic parts, an introduction, body and conclusion. Using your prewriting notes as a guide, write your first draft. Your introduction needs to capture your readers attention, introduce the importance of the work and offer a clear and intelligent thesis statement. An essay of literary analysis assumes that the audience has already read the work being critiqued. Therefore, do not retell the story in your introduction or anywhere else in your essay. Simply include a brief emphatic statement regarding the significance of the work being studied.

If done properly this will capture the readers interest and help to move your writing forward. Be sure to reference the title and author of the the work at the forefront of your introduction. Your introduction must also include a thesis statement which explains how Beowulf combines pagan and Christian elements. In the body of your essay you will point out the pagan elements of the story, identify the Christian elements, and discussed how the two are combine.

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Discuss some christian and pagan elements in the epic Beowulf Essay

Your fist paragraph should address the pagan influence on the story with support from the poem. Your second paragraph should deal with the Christian ideals and influence. And your third should discuss the combination of these two viewpoints in the story. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that names the specific quality or trait that will be discussed in the paragraph. Give careful attention to your transitions.

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