Pagan and Christian Morals in Beowulf
Beowulf uses two religions, Paganism and Christianity, to form a beautiful storyline that has a lasting effect on the poem. There is religious power in the story and the mix of the two separate religions blend to form a work of art. Pagans possess rituals like believing in multiple gods and vengeance. Christians worship one omniscient being and Gods overall almighty power. Both religions believe in fate and they trust their God for their survival during battle. The use of the religious meanings abstracts the story into the most interesting poem it can be.
According to Christians, man relies on the protection of God for survival during battles. Many times before a battle, the hero will mention God and how they trust in him for their lives. Whichever one death fells must deem it a just judgement by God (440). Beowulf makes a speech before his battle with Grendel, he is humble and has faith in God. While Christians trust God for their survival, Pagans believe you have to fight for yourself. Fate saves the living when they drive away death by themselves (572). Beowulf is a strong, superhuman man who should be able to fight battles against evil on his own.
God gave him these qualities so he doesn’t have to help Beowulf win battles. Although Christians and Pagans have different beliefs, they are similar in many ways. In Beowulf there are numerous references to Pagan and Christian morals. The two religions shine through in Beowulf in many different ways. Almighty God rules over mankind and always has (701). Before his fight with Grendel, Beowulf spoke about his strength and trust in his faith. This displays the belief in God choosing the right fate for him, there is evidence of similar Pagan ways too.
Fate goes ever as fate must (455). Beowulf states this when he arrives, demonstrating that he believes that fate will guide him through the battle. Fate is one of the Pagans main beliefs. Christianity and Paganism are alike and different in various ways. As well as similarities, Paganism and Christianity have a plethora of differences. Vengeance is one of the Paganisms beliefs in Beowulf and there are several examples of vengeance shown. It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning (1384). This is when Beowulf is about to battle Grendels mother.
Vengeance is obviously not a Christian value because they let God deal with it. That murdering, guilt-steeped, God-cursed fiend, eliminating his unholy life (1682). Christians believe that God cursed them because they deserved it. No one needs to seek revenge because God has already taken care of it for them by cursing him. Pagans and Christians have many comparable beliefs because of their similarities and differences. Beowulf uses Paganism and Christianity to pull the readers into the story and add to the excitement of the epic.
There is lots of religious meaning in the poem and having a mix of two different religions forms a more intriguing story. Pagans use rituals like believing in multiple gods and vengeance while Christians have faith in one omniscient being and trust in their God. Both religions believe in fate and they trust their God for their survival during battle. If the characteristics from both religions weren’t pulling at you the whole time while you were reading, the epic poem would not have been as interesting as it has become.