In lines 3-13 the poet describes the bard's songs in Hrothgar's hall. How does the content of the songs contrast with Grendel and his world?
The epic poem Beowulf opens with a description of the songs sung in Heorot; how do these songs stand in contrast to Grendel's world?
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This is a great question because it addresses two primary components of Anglo-Saxon philosophy: the battle between good and evil, and the role of God in the conquests of the armies.
Christianity was a new idea when this poem was composed, and this poem intertwines Christian concepts of good and evil with ancient Scandinavian mythology and lore.
Grendel, called a descendent of Cain, is a monstrous personification of evil. Christianity teaches that evil (darkness) cannot stand goodness (light.) When the soldiers sang their joyful triumph songs, Grendel's nature compelled him to destroy their happiness and celebration.
Heorot was a place of light (the whole hall was covered inside and out with gold), while Grendel dwelt in darkness. The scop tells that the the joy and light are from the Almighty, while Grendel's hellish abode reeks of fiends and goblins and monsters that forever oppose the will of the Lord.
The bard in Heorot, Hrothgar's hall, sings about God creating the earth. The bard's song is about the way in which God made the earth and the fields and the sun and the moon (to create light for humans). God also created flora and fauna. The Spear Danes celebrate God's power in their communal songs. Grendel, on the other hand, lives a life of seclusion and loneliness on the moors, and he is enraged by the songs he hears in Heorot. Grendel is the descendant of Cain, who God banished (along with his descendants) from the company of other humans after Cain murdered Abel. Unlike the people in Heorot, who celebrate God's creation and glory in a communal way, Grendel lives a life of misery on the moors and spends his life fighting God and God's people.
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