Compare the depiction of Christ’s death in The Dream of the Rood to the description of the death of Beowulf.
Do these characters meet their death in similar ways? Or are they different?
The death came similarly because they were fighting for similar things. Both were fighting for protection of others. Beowulf fought the dragon that harmed others. Christ fought a different dragon called sin. Both the dragon and sin are dangerous to mankind and each “hero” had to die in order for the wickedness to die.
Are there any ways in which the specific description of the dying Beowulf seems “Christlike” (in terms of the way that Christ is described in the poem, not in more general terms like “sacrifice”)?
Other than dying to protect others. Beowulf’s death had characteristic of Christ’s death in the way it was received by others. People that were on Beowulf’s side in defeating the dragon were terrified and were too weak and cowardly to help him. If they helped, perhaps Beowulf’s death would have been save. The same happen to Christ. His disciples abandon him in the time of need.
After the crucifixion of Christ, his admirers were once afraid and belittled him came to mourn uselessly over his body. The same happen to Beowulf. Those would were to cowardly to help mourned over his body.
Are there any ways in which Christ seems “Beowulf-like”? Note that there are no explicit references to Christ or to his sacrifice in the Beowulf poem—only to God and his almighty power to determine fate. Is this an oversight?
Beowulf was depicted as having more human qualities than Christ. Or shall I say he had more warrior-like qualities. In the poem, Beowulf was said to “glitter and glide” or show himself off, which is typical of that of a warrior. However, Christ is thought of and depicted as being more humble.
Is Christ’s redeeming presence simply something we are meant to take for granted? Or is one poem more pagan than the other?
Both the poem of a Christ-like plight do not consider sacrificial death as something to be taken for granted. However, it is portrayed as something that is often overlooked. Each poem depicts Beowulf’s and Christ’s death as a heroic effort; however, the selfishness of others quickly dismiss their death.
The battle-dodgers abandoned the wood,
The ones who had let down their lord earlier,
The tail-turners, ten of them together.
When he needed them most, they had made odd.
Now they were ashamed and came behind shields
In their battle-outfits, to where the old man lay
Then he ordered the outcome of the fight to be reported
To those camped on the ridge, that crowd of retainers
Who had sat all morning, sad at heart,
Shield bearers wondering about
The man they loved: would this day be his last
Or would he return?…
A Dream of A Rood
They took their Almighty God,
Lifted him from that grim torment. Those warriors abandoned me
Standing all blood-drenched, al wounded with arrows.
They laid the limb-weary one, stood at his body’s head;
Beheld they there heaven’s Lord, and he himself rested there.
Worn from that great strife. Then they worked him an earth-house
Men in the slayers sight carved it from bright stone
Set in it the Wielder of Victories. Then they sang him a sorrow-song
Sad in the eventide, when they would go again.
Remember that even with Tolkien’s early 8th-century date for the poem, all the known Anglo-Saxon kings would have been Christian by this time, many for as long as 100 years.