The praised epic poem, Beowulf, is the first great heroic poem in English literature. The epic follows a courageous warrior named Beowulf throughout his young, adult life and into his old age. As a young man, Beowulf becomes a legendary hero when he saves the land of the Danes from the creatures, Grendel and his mother. Later, after fifty years pass, Beowulf is an old man and a great king of the Geats. A monstrous dragon soon invades his peaceful kingdom and he defends his people courageously, dying in the process. His body is burned and his ashes are placed in a cave by the sea. By placing his ashes in the seaside cave, people passing by will always remember the legendary hero and king, Beowulf. In this recognized epic, Beowulf, is abound in supernatural elements of pagan associations; however, the poem is the opposite of pagan barbarism. The presentation of the story telling moves fluidly within Christian surroundings as well as pagan ideals. .
Beowulf was a recited pagan folklore where the people of that time period believed in gods, goddesses, and monsters. Its significance lies in an oral history where people memorized long, dense lines of verse. Later, when a written tradition was introduced, they began to write the story down on tablets. The manuscript was written by two scribes around AD 1000 in late West Saxon, the literary dialect of that period. It is believed that the scribes who put the old materials together into their present form were Christians and that his poem reflects a Christian tradition. .
Beowulf is a Christian reworking of a pagan poem with "a string of pagan lays edited by monks; it is the work of a learned but inaccurate Christian antiquarian" (Clark, 112). The author has exhaulted the fights with Grendel, his mother, and the dragon into a conflict between powers of good and evil. Grendel is a member of the race of Cain, from whom all "misshapen and unnatural things were spawned" (Kermode, 42) such as ogres and elves.