What is a literary analysis of "The Dream of the Rood"? Please comment on the story's style, themes, and important facts (like who wrote it and when).

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Dream of the Rood" is an early medieval poem, written in Old English by an anonymous author. Its subject matter is religious, the titular rood being the cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. The speaker describes a dream in which he saw a rood covered in jewels and gold. The rood becomes personified (personification is when an inanimate object or even an abstract concept like time or love takes on human characteristics), taking on a voice and character of its own before sharing its story of death and resurrection.

One of the most important elements of this poem is how it characterizes Jesus for an Anglo-Saxon audience. The Anglo-Saxons prized the figure of the warrior-king in their culture, so the speaker makes Jesus a warrior-king: loyal to vassals (which would be all mankind in this case) and unafraid of death. This is done to appeal to pagan Anglo-Saxons who have yet to convert to Christianity (which they rapidly did during the period of the poem's creation) as well as for...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 803 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on February 27, 2020