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Beowulf: Pagan Traditions - Essay Example

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Student's Name & Course Number: Professor's Name: Beowulf (Pagan Traditions) 29 August 2011 (word count – 1007) Introduction Beowulf is an epic poem based primarily on events that supposedly happened in the areas around Scandinavia. As such, it is important to bear in mind it is still basically a story of mythic proportions told through the use of a literary device such as the creation of legends…
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Beowulf: Pagan Traditions
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Download file to see previous pages With this in mind, this paper attempts to discuss and dispute the prevalent perception that it is mainly a diatribe against Nature as essentially hostile to humans and that Fate is blind. On the contrary, this paper believes otherwise; Beowulf was also ultimately successful in the end. Discussion Contrary to popular perceptions, Beowulf is actually a celebration of the wonders of Nature although at times it may portray Nature as hostile; but this portrayal was intended only to contrast and highlight the heroic acts of the main protagonist in it. Moreover, although the background in time and context was definitely pagan in most respects, the Beowulf is likewise very much pervaded by constant references to a God and other Christian patterns of thought (Magennis 82). Beowulf is believed to have been composed around the eight century and as such already belongs to the Christian era when pagan Germanic tribes were being converted. A hostile state of Nature is used only to emphasize the consequences of not believing in religion, as the events in this epic poem refer primarily to the post-lapsarian state of things; the portrayal of Nature here is mainly a literary device so that its audiences can relate more to a powerful “Lord of Life” which was the euphemism used for an actual belief in god. A story like Beowulf was more interested in portrayals of the conflicts among humans rather than this supposed conflict with a hostile Nature. The primeval chaotic state of things were more like a manifestation of the mythic abstractions with which to emphasize an evil potential of humans (Klaeber et al. 201). Although most of the events in Beowulf are clearly pagan in nature, this epic poem is a fusion with religious beliefs anchored on Christian teachings to convert people. A supposed lack of harmony between people and nature is actually a fight between good and evil (Bazelmans 104) and it should be properly viewed this way. This perceived conflict between man and Nature is just to illustrate the important and crucial aspects of the larger theme of the epic poem's story which is that between of ancestors steeped in their pagan ways in the past and the new audience with Christian leanings. A point intended by the author of Beowulf is to lessen the gap between the audience and protagonists in the story to which the audience can easily relate to in their lives (ibid.). Beowulf utilized a number of instances in which blind fate and physical strength alone are not enough to battle a slew of instances against evil; this had been amply demonstrated when Beowulf prepared to do battle with Grendel's mother (Greenfield and Renoir 19). It is no longer blind fate which is propelling his actions but rather a newly-acquired willingness to accept Divine Will as a part of the overall scheme of things in life. In this regard, it is not blind fate anymore that can be a determinant of the outcomes of certain battles but rather a strong determination to overcome a force of nature through insistence of using free choice and Divine Will. Although Beowulf died in his final battle (having been mortally wounded), it is not a failure for he showed human beings can still do ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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