I found that a lot of the recurring themes and habits of the characters are in direct contradiction to the core values of Christianity. This is interesting because the poem intends to be a strong reflection of Christian traditions and value: as stated in the introduction, the poem is a reflection of the â€œwell-established Christian traditionâ€ (37). The poem does have a clear underlying Christian pretext as God, or the â€œglorious Almighty,â€ (17) and â€œthe Lord of Lifeâ€ (16) is continually referred too, making it clear that the characters do believe in a Christian God. It is however their actions and habits that reflect the Pagan belief system and contradict Christian fundamentals. At the time Beowulf was written we know that the Pagans were given Christianity as a new religion to accept so this contradiction could be a reflection of how the transition is sitting uncomfortably with them. A lot of the actions that the characters display such as killing and the concept of revenge are contradictory to Christianity; killing is one of the major sins.
It is interesting to look at the concept of life or ones time spent on earth as it highlights the fundamental differences between the Pagan and Christian religions. Christianity looks at life as a journey towards what is left after death, and you should live in an honorable way on earth and not commit any sins to attain this so called afterlife. The Pagan belief is more focused on the reputation that you have on earth and the legacy that you leave behind. In Beowulf we can see that one of the main themes is to build a reputation by being a great warrior and to be a great warrior you are engaged in killing and revenge, hence the â€œnever-ending blood feudsâ€ (38) that occupy the content of the poem. Beowulf is â€œdetermined to take revenge for every gross act Grendel had committedâ€ (1567-1568), yet it is clear in the Christian bible that individuals are not to judge or determine what others should be judged for and particularly are not to take action on enforcing the punishments for such judgments. It is like the poem was written with the intent to convey a deep Christian moral code yet the characters cannot escape the Pagan belief system as they commit sinful acts proclaiming these acts are to please a Christian God.
Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney.Â The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Gen. ed.â€¨Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. A. New York: Norton, 2012. 36-108. Print.