How is the cross is used in "The Dream of the Rood?" Are any aspects of this personification troubling or especially effective?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The most revealing moments from "The Dream of the Rood" come from when "the most excellent tree then began to speak the words" (27).  The personification from this section of the poem is not only remarkably written, but emotionally jarring as well.  To see the crucifixion scene from the tree's perspective as the cross reveals themes of sacrifice, inadequacy, and determination.

Clearly the tree feels completely inadequate to carry "the mighty king, the lord of heavens, but his sheer determination to honor Christ's sacrifice makes him resolute" (44-45).  The tree "dared not bend down", no matter the price.  In many ways the tree shares in Christ's crucifixion, feeling his agony in tandem:

 "They pierced me with dark nails. On me, the scars are visible,
   open malicious wounds. I did not dare injure any of them.
   They mocked both of us, together. I was all drenched with blood,
covered from the man’s side, after he had sent forth his spirit." (46-49)

The most powerful aspect of "The Dream of the Rood" is the emotional connection forged between the rood and Christ, which through personification and imagery, draws the reader into a powerful dream.


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