Transformation of the Redeemer: From Beowulf to the Vicar of Wakefield College

Within the span of British literature, it should come as no surprise that the themes and motifs which appear in written works evolve in nature. Times, cultures, and peoples change, so it is only natural that the things they write down change as well. An example of this development can be seen when analyzing the role of a redeemer as is apparent in three works: Beowulf, Titus Andronicus, and The Vicar of Wakefield. Beowulf, an old English epic poem produced sometime between the eighth and tenth centuries, tells the story of a hero who defeats numerous enemies in order to preserve the Danish people. At least six hundred years later at the end of the sixteenth century, William Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus, a tragic play that chronicles the story of a Roman general and the revenge he seeks. A final work, The Vicar of Wakefield, is a novel composed by Oliver Goldsmith during the eighteenth century and it tells the story of a country clergyman who, along with his family, experienced many misfortunes but whose story ends with resolution. Present in each of these works is a person who clearly acts as a savior; with time, however, the role of this savior transforms from a position of physical deliverer to one of a moral redeemer.


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