Beowulf Questions and Answers

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Beowulf and the Sparrow in the mead hall For Beowulf and "The Sparrow in the mead hall" Can you give examples of how the inderectly mentioned Christian doctrine offers hope for life after death attempting to attract pagans to concider the new Christian doctrine?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Bede's piece on the sparrow, we can draw an inference to the hope of an afterlife in the last line:

So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed.

The indication that there is an afterlife seems to be found in "what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If...this new doctrine contains something more certain..."

In Beowulf, the following may be taken literally, but may also be an inference to the afterlife:

...but never could he approach the throne sacred to God—he was the outcast of the Lord.

There is also the reference to the Scyldings' council meetings, where men questioned their faith—turned their back on it to serve heathen gods—and forgot, also "Heaven's Crown," which also infers the hope and reward of heaven.

They knew not the Almighty, the Arbiter of actions, the mighty Lord, nor did they pay mind to Heaven's Crown, the Wielder of Wonder.

 

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Asher Wismer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write2,867 answers

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The best hope given by the parable is that the sparrow is actually still alive when it exits the hall; it may have gone back into the storm, but it didn't smash into the wall or get killed by one of the revelers. Insofar as it is an allegory for life, the attitude is that while the experience changes, the soul (sparrow) remains whole.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I also think that both texts are about the beauty of the world too.  There are connections between the afterlife and what we see in this world.  After all, our conception of the afterlife is based on what we find beautiful and good here.

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Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write5,869 answers

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The sparrow flies through the mead hall, which is warm and safe, with a storm raging outside. Similarly, man goes through his short life not knowing what is at the end. Christianity, it is argued, provides man with the possibility of safety after life, and should therefore be followed, according to Coifi, the speaker in Bede's Ecclesiastical History:

So this life of man appears for a
little while, but of what is to follow or what went before
we know nothing at all. If, therefore, this new doctrine
tells us something more certain, it seems
justly to be followed in our kingdom.

The references from Beowulf are, as Post #2 suggests, all suggestive of an afterlife as well.


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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write13,728 answers

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Both texts of course repeatedly refer to the Christian concept of the afterlife. In "The Sparrow in the Mead Hall" for example, Bede's central image of the life of a human being like that of a sparrow that has enough time to fly through the hall before dying highlights man's brevity and ephemeral nature. Both texts therefore seek to challenge their readers by bringing them face to face with the reality of their deaths, which in turn prompts them to think about what happens after their death.

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Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write2,994 answers

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Here are some passages from Beowulf that imply  the existence of the Christian God and/or of heaven (quotations from this translation: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/beowulf.asp):

 

he Lord endowed him,
the Wielder of Wonder, with world's renown.

+++++++++++++++++

to old and young
he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,
save only the land and the lives of his men.

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pretty much a paraphrase of Genesis here:

He sang who knew[4]
tales of the early time of man,
how the Almighty made the earth,
fairest fields enfolded by water,
set, triumphant, sun and moon
for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,
and braided bright the breast of earth
with limbs and leaves, made life for all
of mortal beings that breathe and move.

++++++++++++++++

 

If you go to the translation cited above and search for "Lord" (with a capital L) and for "heaven," you will find plenty of similar references.  Good luck!

 

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lifeinlove | Student

Thank you!