• 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...

Introduction

'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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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. 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).

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

    For care of thy knokke, cowardyse me tacht To accorde me wit couetyse, my kynde to forsake: That is larges and lewte, that longez to knychtez Now I am fawty and falce, and ferde haf ben euer Of trecherye and vntrawthe...

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

    In essence, the poet looking back on the pilgrim is self-reflective. This introspective aspect can also be conveyed as the underlying feature of the Divine Comedy. Only when you truly examine yourself and go down into the depths of your soul, to the depths of hell, and understand not just

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

    'I wis, so wolde I, and I wiste how, Ful fayn,' quod she. 'allas, that I was born!'

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

    to do it until Gawain sees this as an opportunity to prove his value and chivalry presenting himself as "the weakest, the most wanting in wisdom" (Sir Gawain l. 354). By using the figure of Gawain, the poet entered into an already formed tradition with conventions already established; Gawain was

  2. Free essay

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

    During the time this poem was written it was very unusual for women to hunt alone in a forest as it was dangerous. This is a direct comparison to when Orfeo is describing what type of hunt he has seen previous in lines 281-302 to the hunt he sees by

  1. 'It is clear...that Chaucer used the couple relationship as a kind of open field ...

    Thus, the couple relationship of the disparity between male and female desire reaches an astoundingly contemporary fulfilment and the Wife concludes by declaring that 'he is gentil that dooth gentil dedis' (The Wife of Bath's Tale', line 1170) thereby completely annihilating any claim to status founded on other than behaviour

  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