3 March 2014
Beowulf is a story that interested me for a long time. We read this story in grade school, and now in college it sparks many debates in the minds of college students, including mine. When I read it in grade school, it was a good story about monsters and heroes. Now that my literary mind has somewhat developed there are some controversies that jump out at me. At my first glance of the story in grade school, you really don't understand the depth of the epic. Being in a college level course we learned that the original author is an unknown man from pagan times written between the 600th and the 700th century, which is ...view middle of the document...
D., accelerated the rise of Christianity."(From Paganism to Christianity) This was going on at the supposed time that Beowulf authored. After the invasion of the Anlges and the Saxons, the Christian church took over much of Europe. "1100 A.D.-Christian Church gains dominance over Celtic Religions"(From Paganism to Christianity) It was around time that Beowulf was translated into the Old-English version with all of the Christian ideas sown into it.
The version that we study in college was translated by Seamus Heaney in 2000. Even this translation has its own controversy surrounding it. In literary critique work by Howell Chickering, he says "Heaney's own assessment, as reported by Mel Cussow in an interview with the New York Times, is that the translation is "about one-third Heaney, two-thirds 'duty to the text.'"(Chickering) This makes one wonder what parts are Heaney's biases and which parts are literal translations from the original work. "The nickname stuck. in academic circles anyway, but has now lost its pejorative sense and instead signals Heaney's efforts to mark the translation as his own poem.(Chickering) There will always a critic to say bad things about someone else's works. Heaney's translation seems like it was designed to spark ideas and controversies in order to make young collegate minds to think.
On to the literary work that we read. During the Christianization of Europe is when this peom was translated from its original form. "It is in Beowulf, composed not more than approximately 50 years after this conversion, that we are able to find a vivid image of a society still struggling to establish their identity within a new belief structure." (Moloney) Beowulf is not just a bedtime story it is an epic with Christianity sewn though it in order to spread a belief through a stuggling nation. Even in the first few line of the poem when it says "Without a leader; so the Lord of Life, The glorious Almighty, made this man renowned. Shield had fathered a famous son”(Beowulf 16-17) sounds like the author is comparing Beowulf to Christ. Just in the first 20 lines there is a Christian idea and it is similar to dramatic irony, but closer to foreshadowing. When Grendel enters the poem it is a representation of good versus evil or Satan versus their God. "The God-cursed brute"(Beowulf 121) is comparing Grendel to Satan. Just like Satan "So Grendel ruled in defiance of right"(Beowulf 144) is the author modeling this epic after the stories in the bible. Grendel only comes when their in the Hrothgars's mead hall partying and drinking. Only then "The God-cursed brute"(Beowulf 121) enters the mead hall and ends the debauchery.
Beowulf is the savior of Hrothgar's kingdom from the tyranny of Grendel. . " The monster’s whole Body was in pain, a tremendous wound Appeared on his shoulder. Sinews split And the bone-lappings burst....