Beowulf Attacks Grendel's Mother

Summary of Christian and Pagan Elements

      Pagan and Christian elements are present in the passage describing Beowulf's attack on Grendel's mother. Grendel and his mother are said to be ancestors of Cain, who is the brother of Abel and the biblical kin-killer. In the passage describing Grendel, we learn that "From him (Cain) sprang a devil sent by fate." (Norton 43) The devil refers to monsters such as Grendel and his mother. Even though references are made to the devil and Cain, which are both Christian elements, it is known that they are sent by fate, a pagan element. Another pagan element is the returning of Beowulf's armor to Hygelac in case of Beowulf's death. 

      A Christian reference in the passage is when Beowulf cuts off Grendel's head and it is carried back to Heorot for all to view. The reference can be associated with the biblical Old Testament story of The Feast of Herod. King Herod commands his army to cut off the head of Saint John the Baptist. The Feast of Herod was the celebration of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist. The beheading is similar to when Grendel's head was propped up on the hilt (the handle of the sword) for all to see, as Saint John the Baptist's head was placed on a platter for all to view.