Magic And Symbolism In Beowulf '

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Nicholas Rhame Mrs. Waterman English 12 25 September 2015 Magic and Symbolism in Beowulf The mythos of Beowulf is composed of a union, a fusion of Anglo-Saxon and Christian roots. The fusion introduces themes of both Christian and pagan ideals, effectively introducing magical elements into the narrative. The story relies heavily on veiling themes in the use of its characters and their interaction with the supernatural. The core of these interactions lies with Beowulf’s main villain, Grendel. The use of Grendel and the presence of magic in Beowulf comment on the intricacies of human belief and how the divine give meaning to worldly action as well as symbolize the monstrous temperament of human nature. Grendel is a “monster” that is more…show more content…
However, he is characterized as having human emotions. In Beowulf the anonymous poet relates Grendel, “nursed a hard grievance. It harrowed him / to hear the din of the loud banquet / every day in the dining hall, the harp being struck,” indicating that Grendel suffers from vaguely human emotions, such as greed, despair, and loneliness (Beowulf, trans. By Seamus Heaney 9. 87-89). He is envious of being outcast into the fenlands surrounding Heorot, and the anonymous poet mentions that Grendel is part of, “Cain’s clan, whom the creator had outlawed / and condemned as outcasts” (9. 106–107). This quotation is significant because Cain is a character from the bible that falls from the grace of God because he kills his brother, thus…show more content…
Whereas magic is only used throughout the novel as a tool of malevolence in the hands of demons, the will of God is used to describe the acts of heroes. “The monster wrenched and wrestled with him / but Beowulf was mindful of his mighty strength, / the wondrous gifts God had showered on him: / He relied for help on the Lord of All,” here the anonymous poet describes Beowulf’s favor with God after the battle with Grendel (89. 1269-1272). Beowulf is described as being all that he is only due to the grace and power of God. In contrast contextually, Grendel is described as having the aid of magic, “When they joined the struggle / there was something they could not have known at the time, / that no blade on earth, no blacksmith's art / could ever damage their demon opponent. / He had conjured the harm from the cutting edge / of every weapon” (53. 799-804). The representation of magic as only being an instrument of evil serves to further accentuate it as an antagonistic force against the divine.

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