Pagans do not believe in an afterlife. Pagans simply believe that there is nothing after living on Earth. The only way to live on after this life is to be something of a hero and have someone write poems of the hero. The people will tell stories about the hero and the hero will continue to live on in their memories. In lines 186-90, Beowulf explains after telling Hrothgar that he will be the one to kill Grendel, “…And if death does take me, send the hammered/Mail of my armor to Higlac, return/The inheritance I had from Hrethel, and he/From Wayland. Fate will unwind as it must!” This quote makes the reader think Beowulf is pagan. Fate is the paganistic belief that no matter what one does to prevent something from happening, it will happen anyway. Beowulf is also trying to become a hero which matches up with pagan beliefs. Why would killing Grendel make him a hero, one may ask? Grendel is a monster that has been killing the members of Herot Hall for years. Beowulf decides he nee…
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…other the poem says, “But Beowulf/Longed only for fame, leaped back/Into battle” (l. 605-04).
Beowulf is one of those stories that make the reader think. Although the unknown author of Beowulf develops the main protagonist to represent both paganism and Christianity, the ideals conflict and create a unique epic poem. Throughout the story, the reader sees a mix of Christian and pagan ideals telling a story of an epic hero. Because the reader cannot decipher whether he is pagan or Christian, it is only logical to assume he represents both. The author develops Beowulf to speak as if the two religions work together to create one. Although it is hard for the reader to understand, Beowulf seems to understand exactly what he believes in. The author clearly knew what he was doing when he wrote Beowulf into life. Beowulf’s beliefs made him into the great epic hero that he is.
The Epic of Beowulf is an Heroic Elegy
Beowulf is an Heroic Elegy
There is considerable debate as to whether the poem Beowulf is an epic narrative poem or an heroic elegy, a poem celebrating the fantastic achievements of its great hero, and also expressing sorrow or lamentation for the hero’s unfortunate death. This essay intends to show that the poem is an heroic elegy.
In “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” Tolkien states:
We must dismiss, of course, from mind the notion that Beowulf is a “narrative poem,” that it tells a tale or intends to tell a tale sequentially. The poem “lacks steady advance”: so Klaeber heads a critical section in his edition. But the poem was not meant to advance, steadily or unsteadily. It is essentially a balance, an opposition of ends and beginnings. In its simplest terms it is a contrasted description of two moments in a great life, rising and setting; an elaboration of the ancient and intensely moving contrast between youth and age, first achievement and final death (Tolkien 34).
Another literary scholar attacks the proposition that the poem is a narrative, an epic as many critics say: “For the structure of the poem is not sequential, but complemental; at the outset certain parts of a situation are displayed, and these are given coherence and significance by progressive addition of its other parts’ (Blomfield 60). These attacks on the epic-narrative theory regarding the poem Beowulf leave one with the only choice left – that the poem is an heroic elegy, a poem celebrating the achievements of its hero Beowulf, and at the same time a poem of lamentation and sorrow and mourning over the death of that great hero.
In Part I of Beowulf the poet establishes Beowulf as an incomparable superma…
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…. fry. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Greenfield, Stanley B.. “The Finn Episode and its Parallet.” In Beowulf: The Donaldson Translation, edited by Joseph F. Tuso. New York, W.W.Norton and Co.: 1975.
Rebsamen, Frederick R.. in “Beowulf – A Personal Elegy.” Beowulf: The Donaldson Translation, edited by Joseph F. Tuso. New York, W.W.Norton and Co.: 1975
Robinson, Fred C. “Apposed Word Meanings and Religious Perspectives.” In Beowulf – Modern Critical Interpretations, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Tolkien, J.R.R.. “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics.” In Beowulf – Modern Critical Interpretations, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Wright, David. “The Digressions in Beowulf.” In Readings on Beowulf, edited by Stephen P. Thompson. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1998.