Beowulf Is an Epic Poem
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Beowulf is an epic poem that gives a detail account of a man named Beowulf who goes to help the Danes from an evil being called Grendel. Then, years later, a dragon shows up and starts destroying Beowulfs land. He risks his life yet again to save his own people from a dragon. Beowulf is revealed as a Jesus-like figure in the poem. This is made apparent in the events that take place, in the way that Beowulf speaks about himself, and the also in the way the people around Beowulf treat him.
In Beowulfs time Christianity was not a religion that was practice, paganism was. These references to God and Jesus were put in there by the author of Beowulf, who was undoubtedly a Christian. By giving Beowulf a likeness of Jesus the author made the story more appealing and easily relatable to the people of his time.
A way Beowulf is linked to Jesus is through the way the people act towards him and speak of him. When Hrothgar hears that Beowulf has come to help him, he says “Holy God/ has, in His goodness, guided him here/ to the West-Danes, to defend us from Grendel.” (381-83). Hrothgar is saying that Beowulf is savior sent from god to save them, like Jesus was a savior and sent to save all of mankind. Beowulfs likeness to Jesus is also revealed in the events that take place in Hrothgars hall. After Beowulf tells Hrothgar that he will fight Grendel, there is a celebration. During the celebration, “Wealhtheow came in, / Hrothgars queen”(612-13) she fills a cup with ale or wine, and “handed the cup/ first to Hrothgar” (615-16). After Hrothgar has taken his drink “the helming woman went on her rounds/offering the goblet to all ranks” (620, 622). When she got to Beowulf, she “thanked God for granting her wish” (626). This event is quite similar to the Last Supper where Jesus passed around a cup of wine and gave thanks to God.
At some stage in Beowulfs fight with Grendels mother, there is a similarity to a part of the crucifixion of Jesus. During the battle, “a bewildering horde/came at him” (1509-10) and “attacked with tusks and tore at his chain-mail/ in a ghastly onslaught” (1511-12). When Jesus was crucified, crowds laughed at him, hurled insults, and spitted on him, hurting him like Beowulf is being hurt be these “droves of sea-beast” (1510).
When the dragon appeared in his land Beowulf “took eleven comrades” (2401) to fight it. He then added another person whom he “now added a thirteenth to their number.” (2407). So Beowulf has 12 men, just like Jesus had 12 disciples. Also Beowulf, like Jesus, knew that he would die soon. “He was sad of heart, / unsettled yet ready, sensing his death” (2419-20). Later before the fight with the dragon, Beowulf says “This fight is not yours, / nor is it up to any man except me/ to measure his strength against the monster” (2532-34).