Beowulf - Research Paper Example

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Outline Thesis: In examining the text and symbolism within the epic poem Beowulf, it is clear that the changes from paganism towards Christianity are represented within the text. I. Introduction II. Overview A. Establishing the historic time frame B. Pagan and Christian tones in the work C…
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Beowulf
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Download file to see previous pages C. Beowulf’s divine righteousness V. Christianity in Beowulf A. Christian authorship B. Genesis in Beowulf C. The transition from OT to NT in comparison to paganism to Christianity VI. Conclusion Client’s Name Professor’s Name Class Date Christianity in Beowulf Introduction The epic poem Beowulf is a tale of gore, high adventure, and spiritual awakening which denotes the pagan religion as it is leaving the medieval world to the space in which Christianity came to change the rules of their world. The tale is a story of heroism as it was seen in ancient traditions, a monster setting upon a community with a hero coming to save that community from the plague of damnation that fell upon them. The story has deeper meaning in relationship to the culture from which it came. Scholars have defined the meanings as they relate to the emerging Christian themes that were relevant to the contemporary changes in spiritual worship of the time. In examining the text and symbolism within the epic poem Beowulf, it is clear that the changes from paganism towards Christianity are represented within the text. Overview According to Cavill, the Uncle and King of Beowulf is identified as Hygelac who is also referred to in The History of the Franks, written by Gregory of Tours as Chlochilaicus. This piece of information places the time and setting for the poem within the 6th century, located in southern Sweden and Denmark (15). There is no clear history on how the story came to be, what traditions brought it from pagan Germanic people into English literature, nor any sense of clear authorship. Where the changes took place that placed Christian concepts into the poem are also not clearly defined. Cavill writes that “The generally accepted salient facts in relation to religion in Beowulf, however, seem to reduce to two: that the poem deals with characters who were historically heathen and the poem as it is recorded in the manuscript is the product of a Christian poet” (16). The work was likely passed into the English tradition through oral translations, then wrote down to reflect the current cultural factors that was influencing most work of the later middle ages. The earliest known copy of the work is in the Nowell Codex which is named of its first known owner Lawrence Nowell who lived during the 16th century. It is likely that this version of the story was written in the 11th century, but some evidence also places it as early as the 8th century (Kiernan121). There are two points of reference that can be used in describing the infusion of Christian overtones to the text of Beowulf. The first is that it was a pagan story that was then revamped in order to support the burgeoning Christian religion, or that it was a secular text through which the new versions reflected Christian imagery. It is not only the Christianized text that can be seen within the work, but the Latinized literary form that is evident as the Christian-Latin literature began to shape the development of Anglo-Saxon literary efforts (Orchard 130). Klaeber, Fulk Bjork and Niles suggest that the concept of a pagan version of Beowulf has been reputed. That there are Christian elements has been clearly established by scholars who have examined the work, but the pagan elements do not seem to emerge. Despite this, Klaeber et al defines the setting as the pagan past with the “expressions pertaining to Christian belief” to be numerous (xviii). The development of the story has a great number of historic interpretations ...Download file to see next pagesRead more
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