Tag Archives: essay

School essay on BEOWULF – “Fate and Faith”

19 Sep

            The name of the original bard to tell the story of Beowulf has been lost to the ages. Most information about the epic poem and those who passed it down over the centuries is pure speculation based on its content as well as known history. The primary faiths at work in Beowulf are Christianity and Paganism, which both seem to exist without one negating the other. The Christian figure of God is alluded to several times throughout the epic, such as His protecting the throne of King Hrothgar. Wyrd, or fate, seems to share authority with God, guiding Schild’s funerary vessel across the sea and governing who lives and dies.

Fate is unbiased and impassive: Beowulf is depicted as a strong, heroic figure, yet he meets his end with a fire dragon. To be sure, he was no longer in his prime at that point, but that goes to further illustrate that fate keeps things in balance, as opposed to taking “sides.” Grendel was a threat to the human population, and so wyrd allowed him to be slain, and after that, his vengeful mother was also dispatched. The dragon seems to have been a device to rid the world of Beowulf – not because he posed a threat to the demonic population at this point, but because his time on this earth had all but run out. The dragon was destroyed, too: it appears to have been a “use and discard” method of fate, similar to a modern water bottle or a dissolving pill.

God’s grace could also have been at work in the final stand. As previously stated, He seems to be working alongside the pagan fate rather than opposing it (as many others would have Him do) – He seems to have been involved in Grendel’s mother’s spawning as well as that of Grendel himself. Grendel is said to be a descendent of the Biblical villain Cain, the first murderer. Fallen beings, such as Lucifer becoming Satan, often physically transform God’s transgressors into grotesque creatures. While many people can somewhat picture a Western dragon, the forms of Grendel and his terrible mother are left largely to the imagination as “things from Hell.” Art has generally depicted them – mostly Grendel – as being like trolls or ogres: large, brutish, vaguely humanoid monsters, sometimes with scaly patches or horns or cloven hooves. While appearances are not everything, people often do judge others by them. In this context, however, it may be advisable as these beasts are clearly not of the Heavenly sort.

To this day, Christianity spites paganism as being associated with witches or demons. There may be more tolerance now, and hanging is not as common a thing as it once was, but as long as there are humans, it seems, there will be those who judge other beliefs. That being said, God and wyrd are in cahoots in this epic. It is not unlikely that there was a shift in beliefs from bard to scribe: the original poets may have been pagan, and the story may have reached monastery ears and been given Christian elements. If so, it seems to have worked out for the best, as it is a well-known tale which is read to this day.

This illustrates that two or more different faiths may cooperate to achieve great things, such as preserving one of humanity’s oldest recorded writings. Disputes constantly break out between cultures, often due to contradictory religions, but it is not rare for people who are different to work toward the same goal. God worked with wyrd; why should their followers not do the same?

A short essay: “Animal Illustrations and Proper Zoo-keeping”

9 Aug

This afternoon I did a goodly amount of drawing at the library; today I have sketched naught but wild animals using several heavy zoological volumes for visual reference. Much as I love dragons, gryphons and the like, “real” animals are quite an enjoyable thing to depict in my opinion. Perhaps I ought to expand my dreams of illustrating fantasy novels and children’s literature to include books filled with facts about plants and animals. What sparkling unicorn could outdo the indisputable fact that we have giant pandas, and Nile crocodiles, and massive Bengal tigers? No matter what lovely qualities the imaginary possess, they remain stories.

From a young age I wanted to be a zookeeper. Despite the fact that I have moved on from that aspiration as a career, I retain to this day my fascination with the living things of the world. My interests have not so much shifted as expanded from the animal kingdom to the crafts of creative writing and illustration, and I now wonder if I might apply one to the other. My primary passion is writing fictional stories, but a freelancing gig could well set me up with the opportunity to write articles on Komodo dragons or great blue herons. The same goes for sketching – imagine being able to recreate the box jellyfish on paper! My art instructor once gave me some very interesting advice: To draw from memory or imagination is to create a cartoonish or humorous image; likewise, putting pencil to paper whilst observing a model or still image is to add realism.

With that in mind, perhaps I could travel great distances and snap photographs of giraffes, of octopi, of South American macaws. Not only would we have captured the visual essence of these creatures: I could use the very shots as an opportunity to hone my drawing skills. While I might do the same at a zoological park, I am currently of a dual opinion on such places: a conservational program and a “monkey in a cage” one are two very different things.

Humanity is responsible for much extinction, in the wild if not everywhere, and for many more “endangered” statuses. To right the wrongs of other members of our own species, many people have set up laws against hunting rare creatures such as the elusive mountain gorilla. Sadly, far too many poachers ignore these rules and murder the vanishing animals for heartless and selfish means. It is then that good souls such as Dr. Jane Goodall set up places to breed and thus replenish animals. Zoos which house animals temporarily in order to help the overall species are in my favor, as are “display” zoos that give animals a healthy and enjoyable permanent home. The North Carolina Zooloigical Society is an excellent example of humane treatment and good conditions. A handful of years ago they opened a plain at their Asheboro facility in which African elephants now graze and socialize. The term “vast” would be an understatement here. The rhinoceros exhibit nearby is a similar rolling field, and I read recently that their polar bear exhibit is being remodeled to encompass several times its already considerable size. A good zoo, as I see it, worries not about pleasing the guests with as many beasts as possible, but considers the animal life to be a priority. I’d rather watch a locally common bullfrog rejoice in a large swamp pool than see several exotic Bornean orangutans fight for food in what might be called a jail cell.