In the scholarly journal, Goldgyfan or Goldwlance: A Chrisitan Apology for Beowulf and Treasure, Joesph Marshall explains the critics of Beowulf and questions the poems actual elements as a Christian poem. Marshall goes through a number of different critics explaining the elements in the poem that proves Beowulf as a character more focused on his treasure thirsty intentions that prove him to be less as a Christian leader. Marshall explains the first critic, Malone as the first on the scene during the 1960’s to display scrutiny that Beowulf’s fond of the dragon’s hoard symbolizes “ the vanity of worldly goods.” This idea that Beowulf was more interested in the treasure than that of being an ideal hero is consistent through most of Marshall’s critic examples.
An important role I think Marshall misses on talking about is the role of the dragon. In class we discussed the symbolism of the dragon and what he represents. Obviously the dragon resembles that of hell, with his fire breath and destroying of the kingdom. When the cup is stolen from the dragon he reacts by destruction. The dragon is something that can challenge Beowulf. Grendel is the only real worthy opponent Beowulf had faced up until this point. When Beowulf is called upon to face the dragon he takes this as an opportunity to defend his honor. Instead of looking into the future and seeing what his demise could mean to the Geats people, he fights this dragon alone. The dragon is a symbol to the devil and representing hell, a being no single man can conqueror or defend.
This treasure exposed the abilities of Beowulf to be a man. His decision to fight the dragon alone to “test his courage,” was not a heroic act but that of a selfish act. Marshall argues against critics in saying Beowulf is a selfless leader. By fighting the dragon by himself was he realizing he was leaving his people to die? When we were discussing this in class, the idea of Beowulf wanting to see how great of a treasure it was before he died was portraying that he is only human. I agree, this reminds me of the temptation of the fruit with Adam and Eve in the bible. Their temptations proved that people are only human and greed can sometime take over. Therefore I believe this treasure has a second curse to it, which it calls upon a person’s ability to make choices. This where Beowulf proves himself to be a single man no matter his great abilities he displays.
In class we discussed Beowulf as a god like hero. In my opinion I felt that during the scene where Beowulf fights Grendel, and we discussed when he emerges out of the lake and he is covered in blood and his sword has melted down to symbolize as a cross, he is almost a Christ figure. His abilities as a warrior are far further than any man in the kingdom. To me Beowulf looks a savior for the people. In class we discussed Beowulf’s abilities to influence people. I believe he is acting as god on Earth and relating this idea to Marshall’s article he later agrees.
Marshall explains Beowulf was adamant about finding this treasure because he was a selfless person who is willing to dispense gifts to his retainers. After the dragon destroyed his entire kingdom, Beowulf has virtually nothing to distribute to his men. Finding this treasure Beowulf now has the ability to provide again. Without a treasure or wealth the Geats people have a little chance for survival. Marshall quotes Beowulf in lines 2794-2801 where he states, “to the Lord of all, the King of glory, the eternal Lord, I say thanks with words for these treasures, which I gaze on herem because I was allowed to acquire such (treasure) for my men before (my) death-day. Now that I have exchanged my old life-span for the hoard of treasures, (they) will perform the need of the people henceforward; I cannot be here longer.” Marshal finds the Beowulf was only thankful for his treasure because he could provide for his men. This selflessness made for Beowulf to be a savior or as Christ in this poem.
Beowulf was a keystone to the Geats people. His leadership and battling abilities helped in their survival as a group of people. Beowulf, alive, to the Geats was important. I would disagree with Marshall in that Beowulf was a Christ like savior. Christ sacrificed himself for the better of humans on earth. Beowulf sacrificed his people’s chance at existence by fighting the dragon alone. He put his interests in front of the people in which he leads. The argument Marshall is making is that Beowulf was a selfless person because in his efforts for the treasure he was bettering his men. Yet in our classroom discussion we noticed Beowulf was not interested in the people he is a part of but his own accomplishments and the value of the treasure.
Marshall says, “ God gives, god deals, and god sends his special gifts. In a society of gift giving…” Marshall believes that Beowulf was a gift generous king. Throughout the poem he does distribute gifts to his retainers as Marshall already states. Yet when discussing the hoard, where does the idea that Beowulf would give this treasure to his people come about? On his deathbed, interested in the greatness of the treasure I do not think the treasure’s intentions were not for his people but possibly for his personal wealth as a King.
In Marshall’s journal he explains the opinion of a critic named Goldsmith. Goldsmith says Beowulf is “just a man who fought the good fight during his lifetime, but who is in the end brought to his death by the flaws of human nature, the legacy of Adam’ sin.” This is an explanation of Beowulf as a character, that best makes sense to me. Beowulf was a man, good in certain aspects yet failed by the flaws and temptations of us as humans. Although Marshall tries to argue Beowulf was a Christian leader of his people I believe Goldsmith explains him best, a man who failed in his human nature.
In this article Marshall goes through and explains the valid arguments critics have against the poem as a Christian valued poem. The ideas of the critics throughout his journal seem to focus consistently about Beowulf’s fondness of acquiring treasure and he does not see how losing him as a leader the Geats people could lose their existence. Yet. Marshall uses Beowulf’s fighting abilities as a symbol for him to be a provider and savior for his people. I believe that through Beowulf’s selflessness he is a Christ like figure and if not for Beowulf could the Geats people have survived? Therefore in Christianity if not for Jesus could people have ever escaped sin? Marshall says Beowulf was a selfless person yet does his intentions show him to be more than a man like anyone else? I am not confident.
 Marshall, Joseph E.. "Goldgyfan of Goldwlance: A Christian Apology for Beowulf and Treasure." Studies in Philology 107.1 (2010): 2. Print.
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 Marshall, Joseph E.. "Goldgyfan of Goldwlance: A Christian Apology for Beowulf and Treasure." Studies in Philology 107.1 (2010): 6-7. Print.
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