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The World of Laws, Crime and Punishment in Great Expectations Great Expectations criticises the Victorian judicial and penal system. Through the novel, Charles Dickens displays his point of view of criminality and punishment. This is shown in his portraits of all pieces of such system: the lawyer, the clerk, the judge, the prison authorities and the convicts. In treating the theme of the Victorian system of punishment, Dickens shows his position against prisons, transportation and death penalty. The main character, a little child who has expectations of becoming a gentleman to be of the same social position of the girls he loves, passes from having no interest on criminality and its penalties to be very concerned on the issue. By means of other characters, for instance Mrs. Joe Gargery, Dickens tries to define the people's common view about convicts, transportation and capital punishment. In portraying the character of the convict, Dickens sets out the case in hand of two people sentenced to transportation for forgery of banknotes and analyses their psychology. By reading the novel, the reader becomes aware of the Victorian unfair justice regarding poor and illiterate people, but advantageous towards the rich and educated middle-class. The prison system in England may have had a significant effect on the life and writing of Charles Dickens due to his father's imprisonment in Marshalsea Debtors' Prison as a consequence of his debts. These kinds of prisons came to be workhouses for people who had lost all their belongings. In case debtors had family, it must accompany them in prison. This painful experience may have kept way in his mind for the rest of his life. His involvement with the legal world came when he was employed as a clerk at a lawyer's office. His later interest in penology made him read many works related to this subject. For this reason, he incorporated both the treatment of convicts and capital punishment in many novels. Great Expectations is a harsh criticism on the British legal and penal System as well as on Victorian society, achieved after exploring his characters' behaviour, since the laws were only unfair for those on the bottom rung of the social ladder. London was one of the greatest cities in the world in the 19th C. At this time huge amounts of money were invested in industry and buildings as trade with other countries increased. On the other side of the business world, made rich by the cheap labour of the exploited working class, there was a world of poverty, theft and criminality, increased by the Industrial Revolution. In this acquisitive society, the only important thing was to make fortune, so people were much terrified of losing it. Because of this, any sort of theft was regarded as a serious crime and laws were made to show people that this offence was harshly punished. At the time when Great Expectations is set, the 1810-20s, there were a great number of offenders, most of whom were convicted of theft. Theft was considered a felony like homicide and was punishable with death. Jails were dark, overcrowded and filthy. All kinds of prisoners were kept together with no separation of men and women, the young and the old, or the sane and the insane. The poor conditions of the Victorian prisons are described in detail by Dickens in Great Expectations. In the 2nd volume of the novel, Pip comes across "a grim stone building" 163: Newgate Prison. Looking with horror, Pip offers us a portrait of the inside of the prison and criticism on capital punishment: "As I declined the proposal on the plea of an appointment, he was so good as to take me into a yard and show me where the gallows was kept, and also where people were publicly whipped, and then he showed me the Debtors' door, out of which culprits came to be hanged: heightening the interest of that dreadful portal by giving me to understand that ''four on 'em'' would come out at the door the day after tomorrow at eight in the morning to be killed in a row. This was horrible, and gave me a sickening idea of London" 164 At this time the reformation of the British Prison System took place and a new alternative for punishment was found in transportation. Regarding the colonialist question, the Victorians believed that the easiest and cheapest way of eliminating the criminal element from the British society was sending them as far as they could and never allowing them to return under threat of having them executed. Many prisoners were convicted because of little thefts such as stealing pocket-handkerchiefs, watches, and jewellery, and the forgery of banknotes. All these little offences, considered as serious crimes, represented a threat to the Victorian commerce. Dickens writes about transportation in the 1860s, when it ceased to be a system of punishment. Probably, Dickens wanted to show how unfair it was to eliminate criminality of the Victorian society by sentencing convicts to transportation as it were not a social problem. The hulks, the name that received the ships that transported convicts to the penal colony Australia, were used as floating prisons. In the novel, Dickens offers the reader a portrait of the convicts when being transported to the hulks: "At that time it was customary to carry Convicts down to the dockyards by stage-coach ... The two convicts were handcuffed together, and had irons on their legs-irons of a pattern that I knew well. They wore the dress that I likewise knew well. Their keeper had a brace of pistols, and carried a thick-knobbed bludgeon under his arm; but he was on terms of good understanding with them, and stood, with them beside him, looking on at the putting-to of horses, rather with an air as if the convicts were an interesting Exhibition not formally open at the moment"¦" 224 Before reaching Australia, convicts spent about eight months on the hulks doing a hard labour for ten hours a day. It was very difficult to survive the horrors of the hulks because not only they were overcrowded, but also there were contagious diseases and malnutrition. As 'Convicts to Australia' reports, "Convicts were housed below decks on the prison deck and often further confined behind bars. In many cases they were restrained in chains and were only allowed on deck for fresh air and exercise. Conditions were cramped and they slept on hammocks". Also the treatment of convicts on trips was inhuman: "Cruel masters, harsh discipline and scurvy, dysentery and typhoid resulted in a huge loss of life". Governed by rules based on survival instead of mutual aid among convicts, the life on the hulks was quite difficult. The cause was that the legal system mixed thieves with criminals. That is, people who committed little thefts because of their poor condition and people with mental diseases capable of committing crimes. For all these reasons, many convicts attempted to escape from the hulks, which makes an appearance in the opening chapters of Great Expectations as the Hulks are part of Pip's habitat. Pip and his family were eating when the guns were fired, which warned people about convicts' escape from the hulks. Once the convicts entered Australia, they were assigned their labours: to work for the government or to work for a landowner. The common view of Victorian society was that convicts were brutal and senseless criminals as, at the beginning of the novel, Mrs. Joe Gargery explains Pip "People are put in the Hulks because they murder, and because they rob, and forge, and do all sorts of bad" 14. Common people showed their solidarity with the forces of law when helping the soldiers to find the escaped convicts as happens in the first chapters. As showed in the last part of the novel, people liked witnessing trials and executions and enjoyed themselves seeing the condemned suffering. This was like a show, which reminds us of the Roman spectacle in the theatre with gladiators and Christians and lions. Charles Dickens not only analyses the criminal psychology, but also that of the little pieces that compound both legal and penal system. In the novel, Mr. Jaggers is the representative figure of the lawyer of the time. His office is located in Little Britain, the street where lawyers had their offices, near the Old Bailey criminal courts and Newgate prison. That is, the Old Town of London: the world of criminality. Dickens describes the interior of the lawyers' offices through Pip the first moment he enters Mr. Jaggers' office: "To Pip's eyes the rooms seem filled with shabby people "¦.These are sinister misfits whose appearances suggest death and degradation and dirt rather than the predictability and neatness we associate with lawyers today. There is an atmosphere of corruption or at least the possibility of it" Barnes. This sinister office also contains in its walls the busts of two clients who died in gallows. This description has contact with reality, as there was a room in Newgate prison where there were many busts of executed prisoners, in which stuck out the mark that the rope had made in their necks. "There were not so many papers about, as I should have expected to see; and there were some odd objects about, that I should not have expected to see-such as an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, several strange-looking boxes and packages, and two dreadful casts on a shelf, of faces peculiarly swollen, and twitchy about the nose" 162. The lawyer's office is also near Smithfield market, a cattle market where animals were slaughtered publicly. The comparison between Smithfield and Newgate is established when Pip is conducted inside the prison and imagines that convicts are going to be executed in the same way as animals are in Smithfield. Mr. Jaggers, the sinister lawyer, has a strong character in the exercise of power. He provokes horror on Pip as Pip notices his unpleasant tone when arguing with his clerk, Mr. Wemmick, and the way he threats his clients. "The description of his office suggests that a large part of his work as a solicitor consists of manipulating evidence and he is always seen followed by a troop of supplicants whom he brushes off disdainfully, much as someone might try to get rid of a tiresome puppy "¦. He bullies them and gleefully profits from their problems" Barnes. The treatment of his housekeeper, Molly, is also another example of his character. Molly was time ago one of his clients, accused of murder. After having defended her and won the trial, she became his submissive housekeeper. Being exhibited as an animal, she was forced to show her disfigured and scarred wrists to the guests Pip, Dummle and Startop in a meal 212. Another example of Mr. Jaggers' power is the fact that his clients have never dared steal in his house despite never locking the door and having objects of great value because they fear him. Furthermore, there is also another passage in which Pip accompanies Mr. Jaggers to the Police Court to examine a client. Here readers can see the fear the clients have of Mr. Jaggers when saying something that he didn't approve 200. Regarding Mr. Jaggers' private life, the world of law is his only life because he has not disconnected the private life from the work. Thus his life is only focused on the office, which is contrasted with his clerk's life. Mr. Wemmick separates radically his personal life in the castle and his office life. The separation of the two lives almost makes him like two people who behave differently in the two spaces. As Anne Barnes observes, "Wemmick and other office clerks were more likely to move just south of the river to places like Walworth, from where it was easy to commute daily into the City". "Wemmick himself, who in Walworth seems a model of upright living, sees nothing sinister about wearing pieces of jewellery which have been given to him as bribes by people who have now been executed for their crimes. The acquiring of portable property by dubious means is regarded as a normal part of legal life" Barnes. Contrary to him, Mr. Jaggers lived in a gloomy apartment, near to Little Britain, filled with books related to his profession. The Lord Chief of Justice the judge and the prison authorities are also treated in the novel. Not only are they presented as people who made business by charging the entry for the judicial spectacle, but also stealing clothes after executing prisoners: ""¦ the more so as the Lord Chief Justice's proprietor wore from his hat down to his boots and up again to his pocket-handkerchief inclusive mildewed clothes, which had evidently not belonged to him originally, and which, I took it into my head, he had bought cheap of the executioner" 164. Moreover, there was a law whereby the money of an emancipated convict who dared to return Great Britain was confiscated by the government. Dickens exemplifies this in the novel when Magwitch is caught in the river and all the money given to Pip is seized by the government. Apart from this, prison authorities made business just inviting people to enter there by some money, which is shown through Pip's eyes: "While I looked about me here, an exceedingly dirty and partially drunk minister of justice asked me if I would like to step in and hear the trial or so: informing me that he could give me a front place for half-a-crown, whence I should command a full view of the Lord Chief Justice in his wig and robes-mentioning that awful personage like waxwork, and presently offering him at the reduced price of eighteenpence" 164. Through the novel, Dickens tries to demonstrate that convicts were victims of the cruel laws that sentenced people to death or transportation, just only for being poor. By doing this, he explores the criminal psychology to difference the good-hearted criminal punished for his/her social status and that greedy criminal who uses people to get profit. As Leavis and Lewis point out, "Dickens is always asking questions such as 'Why do people in similar circumstances and under the same pressure behave differently?' ". Abel Magwitch is one of the two criminals portrayed in the novel who represents the honest man punished for his social status. He was a vagrant who survived due to little theft. He spent all his youth "in jail and out of jail" 342 and all his adulthood in Australia. He was imprisoned for putting forged banknotes into circulation, a common activity that increased during the first half of the 19th C. He received a harder sentence because of his harsh manners when defending himself and his wretch appearance, but mostly for his antecedents 346. Then, he was punished with transportation and was sent to New South Wales, Australia. There, he was assigned to a private landowner and worked as a shepherd until his master's death also an emancipated convict, when he was left all his money and emancipated himself. As an honest man he earned the money by working several years instead of stealing it. Australia meant a new life for the convicted poor because it was rich in primary resources and there were lots of opportunities to get rich. Magwitch understands that despite being wealthy, he will never ascend the social ladder in a heartless society that rejects convicted and ex-convicted people. Magwitch once heard a colonist saying: "He was a convict, a few year ago, and is an ignorant common fellow now, for he's lucky" 317. So He became a benefactor of the little child who helped him on the marshes of Kent and decided to make him a gentleman as a symbol of gratitude towards Pip. When he returned England to see the boy he helped, he was sentenced to death, without pardon. As Leavis and Lewis claim, "Charles Dickens was very sensitive to the physical and psychological effects that punishment had on the individuals" . The psychological effect that transportation left in Magwitch is the fact that he sleeps with a pistol on the pillow 320. Another theme in this novel regarding Magwitch is the idea of fatherhood. He was not allowed to take care of his daughter, Estella, and he was said that she was dead. So the protection for his daughter and his feelings of parenthood are shown in his relationship towards Pip considering himself as Pip's second father. However, Pip, being a respectable gentleman, feels repugnance towards the convict. His snobbish attitude cannot support the idea of being a gentleman because of the gratitude of a convict. Compeyson is the other criminal portrayed by Dickens who represents meanness, greed and disloyalty. He was a gentleman as he was educated in a boarding school. He forged the banknotes so that his associate Magwitch could put them into circulation. He used Magwitch, like he used Miss. Havisham to get her money, to get profit of him in case they were caught. In the trial he got a lesser sentence due to his education and rich appearance, which Magwitch had not. Here Dickens demonstrates that laws were unfair for those on the bottom of the ladder, but not for the gentlemen. The theme of prisons as punishment is also treated in the novel. As I mentioned before, the first time Pip meets Newgate prison, he goes out of the tour round the prison with horror. This feeling is widened when Magwitch is sentenced to death and sent to this prison. Despite being ill, he is jailed in the common prison with sane and insane prisoners. There, some sick prisoners acted as nurses for the prisoners who were worse 453. It is said that Dickens Newgate prison not only is part of the history of England, but also a part of Dickens life. The experience Dickens obtained in his childhood and the visits he made to Newgate may have given him such information to write the novel with a realist tone. By means of the narration of Pip taking care of Magwitch in Newgate, Dickens express his attitude towards the conditions of the British prisons and his totally rejection of capital punishment when the condemned are waiting for the sentence of execution: "Penned in the dock "¦ were the two-and-thirty men and women; some defiant some stricken with terror, some sobbing and weeping, some covering their faces, some staring gloomily about "¦. They were all formally doomed, and some of them were supported out, and some of them sauntered out with a haggard look of bravery, and a few nodded to the gallery and others went out chewing the fragments of herb they had taken from the sweet herbs lying about" 451-452. It is when Pip learns to feel beyond the mask of respectability that he sees the unfair justice that condemns people with good-hearts: "For now, my repugnance to him had all melted away, and in the hunted wounded shackled creature who held my hand in his, I only saw a man who meant to be my benefactor, and who had left affectionately, gratefully, and generously, towards me with great constancy through a series of years" 441. As a conclusion, Charles Dickens criticises both sorts of punishment, the prison system and transportation as well as the unfairness carried for the judicial systems when creating laws little favourable for the poor. At the same time, he points out the Victorian hypocrisy of the rich and the lack of culture of the poor regarding the world of criminality.
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The World of Laws, Crime and Punishment in Great Expectations Great Expectations criticises the Victorian judicial and penal system. Through the novel, Charles Dickens displays his point of view of criminality and punishment. This is shown in his portraits of all pieces of such system: the lawyer, the clerk, the judge, the prison authorities and the convicts. In treating the theme of the Victorian system of punishment, Dickens shows his position against prisons, transportation and death penalty. The main character, a little child who has expectations of becoming a gentleman to be of the same social position of the...
hunted wounded shackled creature who held my hand in his, I only saw a man who meant to be my benefactor, and who had left affectionately, gratefully, and generously, towards me with great constancy through a series of years" 441.

As a conclusion, Charles Dickens criticises both sorts of punishment, the prison system and transportation as well as the unfairness carried for the judicial systems when creating laws little favourable for the poor. At the same time, he points out the Victorian hypocrisy of the rich and the lack of culture of the poor regarding the world of criminality.

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Life on the Color Line is...Life on the Color Line is a powerful tale of a young man's struggle to reach adulthood, written by Gregory Howard Williams "“ one that emphasizes, by daily grapples with personal turmoil, the absurdity of race as a social invention. Williams describes in heart wrenching detail the privations he and his brother endured when they were forced to remove themselves from a life of White privilege in Virginia to one where survival in Muncie, Indiana meant learning quickly the cold hard facts of being Black in skin that appeared to be White. This powerful memoir is a testament to the potential love and determination that can be exhibited despite being on the cusp of a nation's racial conflicts and confusions, one that lifts a young person above crushing social limitations and turns oppression into opportunity. Williams is defiantly a man of two worlds. In one world he had promise and comfort, in the other he lived in deprivation and repression where one had to work in order to just survive. Williams's recollection of his "life on the color line" is a unique testimonial of the life of an individual who has walked in both the shoes of a White man and then those of a Black man. His story provides examples of real life experiences and events that can further the research of social psychologists by offering insight into the understanding of many social psychological theories and concepts, such as modern racism, in-group favoritism and confirmation bias just to name a few. From beginning to end the reader is bombarded with all kinds of racism and discrimination described in horrific detail by the author. His move from Virginia to Indiana opened a door to endless threats of violence and ridicule directed towards him because of his racial background. For example, Williams encountered a form of racism known as modern racism as a student at Garfield Elementary School. He was up to win an academic achievement prize, yet had no way of actually winning the award because "The prize did not go to Negroes. Just like in Louisville, there were things and places for whites only" Williams, 126. This form of prejudice is known as modern racism because the prejudice surfaces in a subtle, safe and socially acceptable way that is easy to rationalize. Another form of racism experienced by the author is blatant racism which is racism directed towards members of the outgroup that is direct and is in no means masked. The mod of white boys who shouted "Lets get the Niggers" and then continued to follow Carl and Gregory down the block chanting "Nigger" would be an excellent example of blatant racism. Many other examples of blatant racism were found throughout the book, such as after the basketball game "the fans threw rotten vegetables, popcorn boxes, and empty Coke cups at us. Then one group near the exit began chanting. "Niggers!" "Niggers!" Outside the stadium as we waited for the bus, a small crowd of boys shouted. "Niggers go home!" Williams, 220. Discrimination is another key concern for the author as he is struggling to overcome poverty, racism and intolerance. Discrimination comes in many different forms and is defined by the textbook as being any behavior directed against persons because of their membership in a particular group. As a young man Williams experienced many acts of discrimination directed towards both himself and his family. For example, after fishing one evening Carl wanted a soda but couldn't get one from the drive-in they were passing because "blacks were barred from the drive-in like every down-town restaurant" Williams, 225. Another example of discrimination appears in the text when Black students were unable to obtain teaching positions once they graduated from Ball State University because of the color of their skin. Outgroup homogeneity bias is the tendency to assume that there is greater similarity among members of outgroups than among members of the ingroups as defined by the textbook. An illustration of outgroup homogeneity bias is found in the book when Williams's Uncle Jim "expressed his desire to be stationed in France, the captain became angry and said, "All you colored boys want is white women I thought you were different." Williams, 94. This form of stereotyping may also be seen as subtyping. Subtyping is the ability of individuals to hold negative feelings towards a particular social group even though they may like individual members in the group. Another example of subtyping is revealed in the text when Williams begins to show interest in a sister of a White teammate. Even though the boys get along on the court, the teammate tells Williams not to mess with his sister and threatens violence if Williams continues to have any contact with her. The teammate probably would not have had a problem with Williams forming a relationship with his sister if Williams had been White. Ingroup favoritism is the tendency to discriminate in support of an ingroup over members of the outgroup. The author experienced ingroup favoritism when the coach of his basketball team decided to drop Williams from the varsity team in order to replace him with a white, B-team player who was not as well developed a basketball player as Williams. Many of the stereotypes we encounter and hold today were formed because of events in the past, which were formed to rationalize and justify past social and political agendas. Many of the stereotypes that we now hold today were learned long ago and have been passed from one generation to the next. This book has forever inspired me to believe in the value of each child and discourage racist attitudes wherever I encounter them. Gregory Howard Williams encountered many hurdles growing up and successfully defeated them all. He could have easily confirmed the expectations of his negative peers and developed into a self-fulfilling prophecy, but instead he chose to shun his stereotypes and triumph over incredible odds.   

Life on the Color Line is a powerful tale of a young man's struggle to reach adulthood, written by Gregory Howard Williams – one that emphasizes, by daily grapples with personal turmoil, the absurdity of race as a social invention. Williams describes in heart wrenching detail the privations he and...

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The inclusion of fate and what...The inclusion of fate and what happens to the soul when you die is quite common in ancient literature. The Greek epic The Iliad and the essential work of Old English, Beowulf, are two very fine examples of this theme. Fate, how it is, or how it will play out, is recognized in both epics as something all must eventually deal with. What is implied is that the true fate of a warrior, no matter how great, is death. A man's death can either include honor, or shame, it is the goal of both Achilles of The Iliad, and Beowulf to die honorably. Another interesting aspect of fate and death is the inclusion of an afterlife, and what that might be. In Beowulf, it is deducted that there is early Christianity that has to do with the belief in the heaven. On the contrary, the belief in life post mortem in The Iliad has much more to do with the ancient Greek Gods. The purpose of this essay is to establish a comparison of the power of fate, and the control it has mentally over both the protagonists. Also, it will contrast the early Christianity of Beowulf, to the polytheism of ancient Greece and each of their effects respectively to both characters. From the beginning of the epic, Beowulf regards his fate as one of a great warrior. This fate is to do as much honor to his name as he can, but all the while, be prepared for death, as Beowulf is. This fate, as shown in Beowulf is that of a great Warrior and ruler. Beowulf, called on by the agony of the Danish, comes to rid them of the beast Grendal. "Beowulf got ready, donned his war-gear, indifferent to death; his mighty, hand forged, fine webbed mail would soon meet with the menace underwater. It would keep the bone cage of his body safe" Heaney 1442-1446 The quest for honor before death is perhaps the central goal for all true warriors. Beowulf quests for this honor before death over all else that is gifted to him such as power, money, and longevity. Beowulf's glory before death is shown in his actions such as destroying Grendal, hunting Grendal's mother, and in eliminating the great Dragon after being abandoned by his own men. Although he realizes that he is a great warrior, Beowulf is also very aware of his own mortality, and knows that if he if he continues to battle he will be killed. Although aware of this mortality, it is obvious that he does not fear it: "Yet the prince of the rings was too proud to line up with a large army against the sky plague. He had a scant regard for the dragon as a threat, no dread at all to his own courage and strength" Heaney 2345-2349 The lack of fear of fate and death is what makes Beowulf a truly great warrior. The ancient classic, The Iliad, is about the great struggle between the Greek Achaeans, and the Trojans. The greatest warrior of the Achaeans, Achilles, has decided to leave the battle field, aware that his fate as a soldier is death. As shown in The Iliad, Achilles, different from Beowulf, is aware of his fate, but instead of being able to accept it, he believes he can avoid it, in leaving his life as a soldier. He is faced with a decision to make. What Achilles does not realize, is that whatever decision he makes, his fate will eventually be the same. This is shown when he makes his decision to return home instead of staying in the war with the Trojans. "Mother tells me, the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet, that two fates bear me on to the day of death. If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy, my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies"¦" Rouse 101 The play that the Gods have in fate of each man is also quite interesting. The Gods seem to have a personal interest in the fate of their humans, and although they cannot change the fate of the humans, they are able to simply postpone them. This is shown by Zeus in Chapter 16 when he debates saving his son Sarpedon. "It seems that a man's fate is set at birth and cannot be changed, even by the divine Gods" Students Reader of Epics 183 Zeus briefly postpones the death of Sarpedon, although in the end, he cannot help his fate. Though immediately, Achilles chooses a life of peace and longevity , because of the fate of his friend Patrocles, he is forced into taking up his sword again. It seems after Patrocles' death, and the defeat of Hector, that Achilles is somewhat distraught about the future. What is shown is that he now has knowledge of his fate, for in returning to the battlefield, he has sealed his future, and will die gloriously, something he perhaps doesn't wish for. He now has nothing left but to be mournful for a friend lost, and the future he may hold. The key differences between fates depicted in both classics are quite present. Beowulf confronts fate, and doesn't hide from it. He simply is prepared to match any fate that is set out for him. This fate, to be an honorable and glorious warrior who dies protecting his people, is what Beowulf is completely ready for. On the contrary, fate seems to be obvious to Achilles, and yet he strays from it, out of fear of death. Eventually, Achilles does succumb to the fate that the world has set out for him, but this only takes place after many events. The obvious distinction between Beowulf and Achilles is how they treat fate. The true warrior is one that is able to see his fate, accept it, and take it as best as he can. Although Achilles is an incredibly strong and great warrior, he seems to have a fear of fate, never truly accepting it, and this perhaps is the reason he could never be as great as his potential. Beowulf, on the other hand, is the representation of a great warrior. He perhaps is not as strong as Achilles, but Beowulf is gifted with a mental fortitude that makes him able to deal with his fate and death. Throughout Beowulf, there is much evidence in the religious change if Paganism to Christianity. "Beowulf was written in England sometime in the 8th century. This provides us with an idea that the poem that was written during a time when the society was in the process of converted from paganism to Christianity." Duggan In Beowulf, the contrast between the Pagan beliefs and the Christian belief in one God, is very interesting. In the Christian opinion, a monster is a once human that has been deformed and mentally disturbed. However, the monsters in Beowulf, especially the Dragon, are much more attributed to the Pagan beliefs. The year that is attributed to Beowulf's writing is around 900 AD. By this time, Christianity was spreading throughout all of Europe. It is theorized in fact, that the combination between the God of Christianity and the natural beasts of the Pagan beliefs are the primary influences to the writer of Beowulf. The specific Pagan elements that are present in Beowulf, is the manifestation of super human tendencies. An example of this would be the ability of Beowulf to breathe or save his breath underwater. Heaney 1321-1328 Also, Beowulf possesses incredible, perhaps impossible strength, enough to fight beasts hand to hand. The monsters that are mentioned and take a role in Beowulf are also directly related to Pagan beliefs such as the notion of the Giants who create the sword that is used to kill Grendel's mother. Heaney 1642-1670 Also, the inclusion of a dragon as a primary antagonist is quite common in many Pagan stories. It is somewhat obvious that Beowulf himself, is a Pagan. This is deduced from his urge to commit killings of monsters, and his wishes to be cremated. It is quite common in pagan tradition for the corpse of a honorable man to be cremated. "I can hold out no longer. Order my troop to contruct a barrow on a headland on the coast, after my pyre has cooled." Heaney 2802-2805 Although Beowulf himself might be a Pagan, he exhibits many attributes of a Christian. "Beowulf has a Christ-like behavior in his good-heartedness and charity. Beowulf understands the plight of the Danes that are being oppressed by the evil monster Grendel just as Christ knew of the oppression of the Jewish people." Duggan Beowulf seems to understand the plight of the oppressed Danish, and therefore, he understands his role in helping in any way he can. Also, Grendel is described as a descendent from the Old Testament figure Cain, who is tricked by Satan into murdering out of envy . This envy exhibited by Grendel is caused by the desire to live with the "humans" in Heorot. The struggle between good an evil, although represented through Pagan figures, is very much so Christian. Overall, the author does a good job combining the Pagan rituals and beliefs, with the modern Christian ideals. The religious characteristics of ancient Greece are quite different from those of Beowulf's time. Polytheism, the belief in many of the Greek gods dominates all aspects of society. This is made clear by the sacrifice, dedication, prayer, and ritual that all characters, Trojan and Greek alike, practice. Unlike in Beowulf, in which God takes little action directly to society, the Greek gods are physically manifested by humans in The Iliad. Often, the Gods decide to get involved in the epic battles that occur between the Trojans and the Greeks. This provides the change in power many times, because it seems like the Gods take a personal interest in the humans to the point of joining them. The protagonist Achilles is referred to as a son of a God. This means that he is able to represent some of the physical aspects of Gods, such as incredible strength and speed, but he is still mortally human. Achilles, like much of the ancient Greek society, is very religious, and constantly prays to Zeus and other Gods. It seems through Achilles actions after Patrocles death, that religiously, it is quite customary, and necessary for honor to be given to the dead. The differences in beliefs of the two works are quite irrelevant. The most important aspect of religion in both the works is that it is principle to the character's attitudes and decisions. Religion is therefore a primary theme in both works, for it serves as motive for many of the actions of Achilles and Beowulf. Although both characters seem to be warriors who slaughter a countless number of people, they both are quite moral in many aspects. Beowulf defends the oppressed Danish because he knows that they are in a position where they are oppressed by evil, and they cannot help it themselves. Achilles feels for the honor that has been taken from his best friend Patrocles, and therefore is wishes to return to war to reclaim Patrocles' honor from Hector. This has much less to do with advancing Greek power, than to simply stand for a true friend's honor. Although both acts are morally good, it is shown that both characters exhibit characteristics of Christian, even though both are not. Between fate and the aspect of religious beliefs in society, both ancient works give many lessons in life today. Homer's Iliad gives us a good look at the atrocities and pointlessness of war at some points in history. It shows that good, innocent people lose their lives because of the selfish decisions of others. Beowulf teaches of the critical aspects of standing up in oppression. Taking action for yourself and being able to help those who need assistance are great lessons Beowulf examines. Most of all, however, both works show that no matter what, people can never escape who they are. The fate of man is examined well in both works, and it is deduced, that it is impossible for people to truly escape what is set out for them, whether it be honor, death, shame or life.   

The inclusion of fate and what happens to the soul when you die is quite common in ancient literature. The Greek epic The Iliad and the essential work of Old English, Beowulf, are two very fine examples of this theme. Fate, how it is, or how it will play out,...

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