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Essay/Term paper: Christian morals in beowulf

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Beowulf

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Christian Morals in Beowulf

Beowulf is an epic tale that has been changed over time to try and
express a christian moral. While this transformation over time has added a new
variable to the plot, it is still impossible to try and erase the original pagan
plot completely. It has become evident that the original epic was pagan and had
no mention of the biblical references or the christian morality that it contains
now. However, it is also evident that the original story dealt with the concept
of a higher being or beings.
The overriding christian view has many facets and deals with them all as
a new way of proposing christianity into the theme of the story. The reason that
Grendel becomes outraged is that the bard in the mead hall is singing a song
that has to do with creation. This shows Grendel's apparent disregard for God
and he proceeds to go to the hall and capture men and eat them while they are
asleep. As we progress into the story, we learn that Grendel carries the curse
of Cain with him. "He bore the curse of the seed of Cain/ Whereby God punished
the grievous guilt of Abel's murder." Cain was the son of Adam and Eve and was
the one who murdered Abel, his brother, out of a jealous rage for God's favor to
Abel. This shows us that Grendel had more than just a dislike for the men, the
song was showing Grendel that his ancestor was looked upon as the bad person and
was therefore the underlying concept for Grendel's rage. This was the constant
reminder to Grendel of his evil past and thus his reasoning for his actions. We
learn to see Grendel as a less than human being, but in actuality, he is a
monster who has a degree of humanity in him and that is the reason that he is so
hard for Beowulf to kill. He has the human emotion of pride which ultimately is
the cause of his downfall. While this seems to be a major part of the story line,
it can be removed and the story will only lose the background of Grendel's evil
side. This could have been where the real story of Grendel originally was.
As with many of the classic medieval stories there is a sense of a
higher being and fate is a major factor in Beowulf. " Had fate but granted, born
of my body/ An heir to follow me after I'm gone." Fate is the factor that leads
to the explanation of Beowulf's death, and fate is also the reason that Beowulf
cannot pass his sword and shield on to his nonexistent son. Fate plays a major
role in the story and is related to the comitatus of the story. Beowulf's life
ends because of the curse on the dragon's gold and causes the death of his
family line. Although Beowulf tries to rationalize his greed for the gold as a
way to better his people, his true feeling is that of gold and because of his
past experiences and victories, he feels that he is immortal. He feels this way
because he has lived through the toughest battles of all men and is thought to
be the greatest warrior alive by all people.
In conclusion, we are shown that without the christian morals throughout
Beowulf, the story would seem incomplete, however, we will never know exactly
what the original author lost over time as the christian morals were implanted
into the story.
It is also evident that because of the pagan occurrences in the story
that the story was one of pagan origin and is now a story of christian origin.


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