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A Religious Epic Essay, Research Paper

Beowulf is an epic poem that brings up many questions when it come to the topic of what religious

background influenced the poem. One wonders whether it is a pagan or Christian writing. There are many

examples of both religions throughout the paper. The paper must be interpreted carefully to find the true

meaning behind all of the actions that take place in the poem.

Beowulf is the hero of the epic. He comes and slays the monsters that hender the lives of the people of

Herot. He first kills Grendel. He then slays Grendel’s mother. In the end he gives his life to rid the people from

Herot of the dragon. He does need Wiglaf’s assistance in this task though. In the end Beowulf is the hero, and he

will forever be remembered in legends. Good triumphs in the common struggle of good versus evil. In this poem

good is repressed by the town of Herot, and evil is represented by the monster’s and their liar.

There are many pagan influences included in this work. The first one that is obvious and common

throughout the poem is the whole concept of monsters. The fact that dragons and sea monsters exist in this writing

is an apparent sign of pagan influence. This is something that does not exist at all in Christian beliefs. In line

twenty-seven in reference to goblins, giants, and monsters representing evil. This also is pagan. In line 484 it says

that Grendel has laid a spell on all men’s sword. Christian’s do not believe in witchcraft and the ability to cast

spells. In line 634 Beowulf notices a sword made by giants. This is also of course a pagan belief. The pagan

influences are not as abundant in the poem as the Christian ones, but they are central to the idea of this poem.

They are also key to the plot.

The Christian influences in the poem are very evident. The first one comes early in the poem. In line

twenty-one we learn that Grendel is a descendant of Cain. This makes a reference to The Bible. Cain was the first

murder, and he was banished. He is a good representation of evil. In line eighty-four we learn that Hrothgar’s

throne is protected by God, and Grendel will not touch it. This represents the Christian separation of good and

evil. In line 828 we are informed that Beowulf’s soul has flown to glory. This demonstrates the Christian idea of

Heaven. It is his reward for a life lived in a good and productive manner. Throughout the poem the word god is

always capitalized. This emphasizes the belief in one supreme being. This is central to the faith of Christianity.

They believe in one supreme god and no others. This differs from pagan beliefs. In Beowulf Heaven and Hell are

discussed frequently. This is also pivotal in Christian beliefs. Heaven and Hell are things that not necessarily

required in a pagan belief system. The Christian influence are much more plentiful in this work. They show a

strong Christian sway in this writing.

As one can observe, there are both pagan and Christian beliefs that are illustrated in Beowulf. It is

understandable how one could believe that this epic was written by someone of either faith. In my mind though, I

see the writer as a Christian. The Christian influence is very strong. Many basics to Christianity are portrayed in

the writing. The author did use pagan ideas to add to the story. It was much easier to create the story using

concepts such as monsters and giants. It adds to the epic and makes

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