• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'That doom abided, / but in time it would come' (Beowulf, lines 83-4) Discuss the theme of fate / destiny in these texts.

Extracts from this document...


'That doom abided, / but in time it would come' (Beowulf, lines 83-4) Discuss the theme of fate / destiny in these texts. It is indeed immediately evident to the reader (or listener) of Beowulf, that the poem is heavily laden with themes of fate and destiny. I would even go as far as saying that it is partly the weight that these themes lend that gives Beowulf its rich and beautiful quality. These themes are present throughout the text, for instance the creation of Heorot comes with the prophecy of its doom, with "its gables wide and high and awaiting / a barbarous burning" (lines 82-3). We are also given the cause for such a fate, namely blood feud between in-laws. The inevitable doom associated with blood feuds, and its associated fratricide, is also present at the end of the text with the wild prediction of the war and destruction of the Geat nation at the Shylfing's hands. ...read more.


However, if this is to be considered as evidence of the Anglo-Saxon concept of doom, then in the poem we are also able to see the Christian equivalent, which can perhaps be better referred to as divine providence. In this interpretation of destiny, there is an integral component of judgement, whereby destiny is set out by God. This approach to destiny can be seen at numerous points, for example "a comfort sent / by God to that nation" (13-4). Here we can clearly see the influence of Christian beliefs in the narrative voice of the poet. The evidence of divine intervention can be found elsewhere in Beowulf, for example in his fight against Grendel's mother: It was easy for the Lord, the Ruler of Heaven, to redress the balance once Beowulf got back on his feet. (1554-6) This has the effect of showing that all outcomes are ultimately attributable to God, here reinforcing the positive characterisation of Beowulf by essentially saying that God is in support of him. ...read more.


In a number of ways the heroic characters are distanced from the paganism that they historically must hold, in particular they adhere to characteristically Christian formulas of worship. An example of this is "They thanked God / for that easy crossing on a calm sea" (227-8), which is instantly recognisable as an un-pagan thanksgiving to the providence of a single God. Indeed, throughout Beowulf there are signs that these pagans worshiped a monotheistic precursor to Christianity, rather than the polytheistic idol worship that would be extremely difficult to excuse from a Christian viewpoint. Thomas D. Hill points out that this would allow an approach similar to later humanists, such as Dante who placed such figures as Aristotle, Cato and Rifeo (all pagan) variously in hell, limbo or heaven. This in turn has the effect of allowing the providence theme to sit alongside that of doom because the distancing of the heroic characters from paganism conversely allows their more believable association with God's fate. To further this effect, there is a selective assimilation of Christian sources into the poem. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Medieval section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Medieval essays

  1. Beowulf - The real Story

    "Wiglaf has betrayed us! Fellows, this is King Beowulf!" Immediately all in the street, including Thomas, who dismounted from his horse, went to their knees and bowed, giving reverence. "My people, I do not ask you to treat me as I god! Get back to your feet." All of the people stood, as if on command.

  2. Pity for the Damned. In the epic poem The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, ...

    in response to Dante's joking comment of the sounds coming from the trees (239). To Dante's amazement, the twig bleeds human blood and speaks: "'Why do you tear me? Have you no pity?/We were once men that now are turned to thorns...'"(241).

  1. Virtue and the 'endless figure' in the works of the Pearl-poet. The Pearl-poets works ...

    The fivefold pentangle seems more vulnerable somehow, and ultimately it is broken down as Gawain gives in to the urge for life. It is not his adherence to courtesy that ultimately causes Gawain to sin as earlier episodes seemed to threaten, but his submission to cowardice in accepting the girdle:

  2. Dantes Divine Comedy. Discuss what you consider to be the most important allegorical features ...

    Leading on from the last point, in order to understand the complexity of the allegory entwined within this canto, you need to first acknowledge what the perception Dante has of Ulysses, in his duality as both the pilgrim and the poet.

  1. Chaucers presentation of Troilus and Criseydes love reflects the insurmountable influences of the conventional ...

    Troilus delegates the supervision of the love affair to Pandarus, writes letters, lies and tricks Criseyde (with the feigned suit by Poliphete and the supposed jealousy over Horaste) until she succumbs to his protestations of love. Pandarus also sets about talking Criseyde into loving Troilus.

  2. The main characters in Le Roman de la Rose and Sir Gawain and the ...

    The lover knows that love-and as a result his identity-is "very changeable, [that] love hardly ever stays the same" (Lorris 53). All these difficulties will only be tests for the lover to reinforce his identity and his loyalty to the God of Love; he will become a role model for

  1. Free essay

    Commentary on lines 305-338 of Sir Orfeo. While at first glance the details in ...

    This word is used whenever the person saying this word is distraught, it is said when King Orfeo first finds out that his wife has been threatened by mutilation by the fairy King and the only way to prevent this is to let her go with the fairy King; it

  2. Two Different Heroes

    spread his fame with deeds of bravery, and so it is in Beowulf's best interests to spread his fame. By Gawain's time, however, people were judged more by their moral values than by their fame in battle, and so it is in Gawain's best interest to appear as courteous as possible to his host.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work