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Beowulf and the Concept of Preternatural Fate

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Harrison Baker IB World Literature Beowulf Final Essay An Epic of Kismet A prophetic declaration of what must be; fate. Exploring the Anglo Saxon concept of preternatural fate, the poem Beowulf depicts the protagonist, Beowulf, and his epic tale of events that ultimately decide the hero?s destiny. In particular, the poem explicates whether God, man himself, or a combination of the two ultimately control the destiny of man. Influence of Christian elements merges with pagan tradition to portray fate as a manifestation of God?s will or judgment. Within this system, the poet discloses God?s rewards for those whose actions exhibit honor and good judgment. Likewise, the poet depicts that God imposes punishment and calamity upon the imprudent figures of the poem. In spite of the direct intervention of an irrefutable Christian god, Beowulf expresses that man ultimately determines his own fate by choosing whether to honor his people in accord with the Germanic warrior code; to allow hubris to overcome him and selfishly seek his own welfare. As a result of centuries? of assimilation of Christian influence into Scandinavian culture, Beowulf displays a combination of pagan fatalism, man?s inevitable death, and the respect with which his peers regard him, with the Christian doctrine of individuality. ...read more.


Thus, God rewards Beowulf and his men not simply for the admirable and valiant act of defending Hrothgar and his land against Grendel; Beowulf gains triumph through God?s abet as he has chosen to use his power to aid others. Moreover, after Beowulf attributes his victory over Grendel and his mother to the intervention of God, Hrothgar delivers the ultimate praise to the hero, stating, ?A protector of his people is entitled to affirm that this man/was born to distinction. Beowulf, my friend,/ your fame has gone far and wide, you are known everywhere?? (1700-1704). In granting Beowulf this outstanding victory, God also confers upon him the immense honor of reverence as clans across the lands recognize Beowulf as the epitome of a hero and great warrior. Beowulf attains these honors as a consequence of his decision to assist Hrothgar to honor the Germanic warrior code. Additionally, the poet informs the audience of divine intervention on the hero?s behalf after his sword shatters while battling Grendel?s mother scorns subtlety. ?It was easy for the Lord,/?to redress the balance/? a sword in her armory, an ancient heirloom/from the days of the giants, an ideal weapon,/?but so huge and heavy of itself/ only Beowulf could wield it in battle? (1554-1562). ...read more.


The conflict with the dragon has an aura of inevitability about it. The indefinable distinction lies within the proud mentality that corrupts Beowulf in his old age, and in the hero?s choice to fight the dragon in order to gain material wealth for his people, and unaccompanied. In conclusion, the tragic heroic poem Beowulf proposes that although the Christian God bestows judgment and recompense to his subjects, these people control their own fate by choosing either to honor and defend those to whom they are loyal or to superciliously disregard the wellbeing of other to benefit their own affluence or repute. Principally, as an expression of the ruling of the Christian God, fate gives the entity the liberty to make his own choices and bears him accountable for these actions. Furthermore, God requites the worthy hero with praise according to the merit and honor of his decisions. Likewise, this same God abhors the unworthy men entrusted with headship who succumb to egotism over the welfare of the people they protect. The Anglo-Saxon Christianity of Beowulf permits man the liberty of responsibility for his own actions, evoking a desire to treat the independence of his people with esteem and charity in case he may endure divine abhorrence. ...read more.

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