The poem as a whole functions as a meditation on the redemptive power of Christ’s crucifixion. The dreamer as well as the audience is confronted with a retelling of the Crucifixion from the perspective of one who was not only a witness to but also a participant in the Lord’s suffering. The cross, the dreamer, and the audience experience a transformation from confusion to comprehension as anticipated in a medieval dream vision. As a work of affective devotion, the poem also causes movement from uncertainty to faith through the emotional description of Christ’s willing suffering and the assurance of salvation through veneration of the cross.
“The Dream of the Rood” belongs to the strong Old English tradition of Christian literature intended to guide the faithful through their lives. Saint Augustine brought Roman Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons in 597, and by the end of the seventh century, monastic life was well established in Britain. The poem exemplifies the fusion of Germanic and Christian-Mediterranean cultures found in Old English literature.
This poem takes up the cult of the cross theme popular in Christianity since the fourth century recovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena. The image of the cross provided a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of humankind. The dreamer’s experience leads him to a stronger devotion to the cross, and he accepts the command to embark on a mission of evangelization, revealing...
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The Heroic Significance of Christ in The Dream of the Rood Essay
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The Heroic Significance of Christ in The Dream of the Rood
Incorporating traditional Anglo Saxon beliefs of heroism with the image of Christ on the cross allows the poet of The Dream of the Rood to effectively communicate the benefits of Christianity to pagan warriors. By comparing characteristics, duties, and treatment of heroes in Beowulf and the Battle of Maldon to the depiction of Christ in The Dream of the Rood, it becomes evident that the image of Christ is altered to mirror that of heroic warriors. Through this melding of heroic beliefs and Christianity, the poet of Rood is able to show how Christ can become the ultimate ring giver or Lord.
Dominant characteristics of heroes in Beowulf and The Battle of Maldon revolve…show more content…
The Christ depicted in this passage willingly accepts his battle on the cross and because of this act the poet then goes on to describe Christ as a "warrior", "strong," and "stouthearted." Christ is not portrayed as a meek and humble man resigned to his task as savior and lord. Within this portion of the text, he becomes a bold warrior climbing the cross as if going into battle. At the end of the poem, the narrator looks to Christ and the cross for protection.
Furthermore, the primary duty of a hero is to provide his kinsmen with great treasure and weaponry. Beowulf fulfills this duty by stating "Behold this treasure … that I have been allowed to leave my people…" (Beowulf 91) to Wiglaf after defeating the dragon. The warriors in The Battle of Maldon describe their Lord and hero as a "treasure-giver," and also a "ring-giver." The warriors in both of these texts reflect on all that their lords or heroes provide for them. It is through this gratification for material wealth that kinsmen feel so indebted to fighting for their lord. Wiglaf illustrates this concept when he remembers "the bountiful gifts bestowed upon him" (Beowulf 88) and finds that "he could not hold back" (Beowulf 88) from his lord's side. Christ also fulfills this duty of a hero by bestowing many wonderful gifts and treasures upon any man who will follow Him faithfully. The treasures described in the poem