Religious Undertones

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Throughout the epic of Beowulf, there are symbols from both the Christian and pagan religions. In the section entitled "Further Celebration at Heorot," there are specific references that should not be overlooked. Perhaps the most obvious evidence of Christian undertones is the opening reference to the great flood that "slew the race of giants" (Norton 49). This has parallels with the story of Noah and the flood in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. As the chapter continues, more Christian elements can be seen as Beowulf tells of his great battle with Grendel's mother. During his tale he credits both his bravery and success to God by saying, "the fight would have been ended straightway if God had not guarded me" (48). He believes that God has pointed him to the great sword on the wall, which enables him to defeat Grendel's mother.

Religious undertones can also be found in King Hrothgar's great speech to Beowulf. Hrothgar's reference to pride has a religious implication because pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian teachings. He advises Beowulf not to allow his pride to swell within him, as this may cause his downfall. The Christian religion also teaches that pride can cause man's downfall because it is a mortal sin.

Christian references can be seen in the story of King Heremod. One of the reasons that Heremod is considered an evil King is because he does not give gifts to his people. The giving of alms to the poor is an important part of Christian religion because in the Bible it states that "each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:6) .

Pagan elements can also be seen in this passage from Beowulf, because although Beowulf credits his success to God he also attributes part of it to Wyrd, or fate. Wyrd is a pagan belief that is summed up in this famous quotation:

"fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good" (34).
Although Beowulf's success is mostly attributed to God one cannot overlook the fact that during this time period, wyrd, or fate, would also have been taken into consideration.

Other evidence supporting allusions to paganism can be seen in all of the references to monsters throughout the epic. The giants and devils that are found in this passage definitely do not come from Christian beliefs.

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