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Epic of Beowulf and the Epics of the Anglo Saxons.
The characteristics of the epic involve its unique style pertinent only to Beowulf and the fact that it was written and rewritten. The main characteristic was that it focused on Grendel, a large furry and bear-like monster, who spent his time fighting humans. Grendel is a member of “Cain’s clan, whom the creator had outlawed / and condemned as outcasts.” (106–107) and the epic seems to be the only book besides Bible that wrote about Cain’s clan. Needless to note that another characteristic of the epic raises controversial feelings in believers and thus prompts them to endorse Christian values, and become more tolerant.
The monks who rewrote the epic certainly did it for various religious purposes. On one hand, the epic made believers constantly remember about the evil associated with Grendel and the Cain’s clan. On the other hand, Grendel’s human qualities also taught people that outcasts may also have emotions and feelings and that they should not be demonized. As a matter of fact the epic calls for some reconciliation, tolerance and forgiveness.
Finally, Anglo-Saxons were Barbarians who just like the German tribes were fighting with the Holy Roman Empire. They did not have sophisticated technology, laws, or regulations, yet they did show cruelty and contempt for strangers. The Shaper sings pretty songs and ‘shapes’ history making it look attractive despite the fact that it wasn’t in the case of Anglo-Saxons. Grendel who witnessed the true history and thus represents the source of wisdom and knowledge is not welcomed simply because people choose to live in the illusory world. To the monks who spread religion, this metaphor was enough to persuade people that their current lives are also based on illusions and sins. Those who know the truth to humans (like Jesus or Grendel) are not welcomed. They are rejected, oppressed, killed or crucified. The epic allows people to understand their own nature better, to build tolerance towards people who look or act differently and to ultimately endorse Christian values.
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