Date of Award
"Within medieval studies, Beowulf is, by far, one of the most well-known and analyzed texts. While much scholarship focuses on subjects such as lexical analysis, Beowulf’s actions, the symbolism of Grendel, women’s roles and expectations, medieval politics, and many other notable topics, a less-popular, but significant theme within Beowulf is the fluctuating state of religion throughout Anglo-Saxon history. Rather than depicting a binary system between Christianity and paganism, the poem acknowledges the ongoing conversion process, which presented overlaps of both beliefs. The result of this process was folklore and this ambiguous system plays a major role throughout Beowulf. However, this theme is not in the foreground of the poem; rather, it is shown through the female characters, Wealhtheow and Grendel’s Mother. The use of these foils reveals the anxiety concerning folklore within society without distracting from the hero and his courageous exploits. While Grendel’s Mother is representative of the pagan past and its remaining influences on the culture of the poem, Wealhtheow represents an attempted reconciliation with and inclusion of that past, while also demonstrating the failures of this society of blended religious values." - from page 1
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Kinkade, Sarah, "Remnants of the Past: Grendel’s Mother, Wealhtheow, and the Pagan Past" (2016). Senior Theses. 4.