Beowulf - Religion Essay

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Both Hrothgar and Hygelac depend on the loyalty of others if their sons are to inherit their respective kingships.

All of these concerns help emphasize the importance of family heritage as a cultural value.

It is one of the largest texts in Old English and stands as a good representation of Old English literature and Anglo-Saxon culture.

The character Beowulf himself is quite famous for his heroism and kingly attitude.

An awareness of family lineage is one way in which the heroic code integrates itself into the warriors’ most basic sense of identity.

By placing such an emphasis on who their fathers were and how their fathers acted, the men of Beowulf bind themselves to a cycle of necessity governed by the heroic code.For example, because Beowulf’s father owed a debt of loyalty to Hrothgar, Beowulf himself owes a debt of loyalty to Hrothgar.In this way, patriarchal history works to concretize and strengthen the warrior code in a world full of uncertainty and fear.This tension leads to frequent asides about God, hell, and heaven—and to many allusions to the Old Testament throughout the work.In the end, however, the conflict proves simply irresolvable.Beowulf’s final encounter with the dragon evokes a heroic approach to wyrd, or fate.Though he recognizes that his time has come and that he will thus not survive his clash with the dragon, he bravely embraces his duty to protect his people, sacrificing his life to save them.Beowulf doesn’t lead a particularly good life by Christian standards, but the poet cannot help but revere him.Though some of Beowulf’s values—such as his dedication to his people and his willingness to dole out treasure—conceivably overlap with Christian values, he ultimately lives for the preservation of earthly glory after death, not for entrance into heaven.His subsequent encounter with Grendel’s mother evokes the importance of vengeance.Just as Beowulf exacts revenge upon Grendel for killing Hrothgar’s men, so too must Grendel’s mother seek to purge her grief by slaying her son’s murderer.


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