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Beowulf and Salvation

             Many critics and writers, who have analyzed Beowulf, believe that the allegory within the poem relates to salvation. These critics cite and describe parallels to Christian dogma and to Christ's life. There is a significant parallel between Grendel's mere and hell. "Christian allegorists view Beowulf's descent into the mere as a baptismal rite involving both death and resurrection, and they parallel Beowulf's descent into the mere with Christ's Harrowing of Hell" (Cliffs Notes 63). When Beowulf prepared for the descent, he also seemed to be preparing for death. He forgave his enemies and he did not mourn for his life. "Significantly, all the thanes except Wiglaf give up hope and leave at the ninth hour of the day- the hour of Christ's death on the cross"(Cliffs Notes 54).
             Probably the most common referent for the allegorists is the Christian story of salvation. These critics see Beowulf as the savior of the Danes, who are being harassed by Grendel. Like Satan, jealous of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Grendel is jealous of the joy and happiness in Heorot. Because Grendel is associated with the powers of darkness and evil and because Beowulf has many of the attributes of Christ, the allegorists see him as an allegorical Christ, bringing salvation to the world. (Cliffs Notes 54).
             Grendel is used as a symbol of evil and he is often referred to as the descendant of Cain, who in the Bible killed his brother Able. This again is further reference to the Bible and Old Testament (Cliffs Notes 54-55).
             There are three salvation stories within the poem. The first is Beowulf's battle with Grendel, next is Beowulf descending into the mere, and last is Beowulf's mortal battle with the dragon. In the final salvation story Beowulf gives up his life for his people; just as Christ gave up his life for humanity. The .
             critics, who oppose this supposed belief, think "that if killing the dragon symbolizes evil, or Satan, to the allegorists, then Beowulf's death indicates that evil, or Satan, is victorious because Beowulf dies" (Cliffs Notes 55).

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