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    Hrinde Bearwas: the trees at the Mere and the root of all evil in Beowulf

    Bintley, Mike (2020) Hrinde Bearwas: the trees at the Mere and the root of all evil in Beowulf. Journal of English and Germanic Philology 119 (3), pp. 309-326. ISSN 0363-6941.

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    This article argues that the “hrinde bearwas” (frost-covered trees) overhanging Grendel’s mere in Beowulf, which have long been linked with the poem’s proposed sources and analogues, have for too long been represented as little more than an ominous element of the mere’s setting. Although these connections are important in their own right, these trees should also be understood in the context of Grendel’s descent from Cain, whose murder of Abel entwined human lineage with the “branches of sin” – a motif identified in Aldhelm’s Carmen de uirginitate and elsewhere in Old English poetry. If these branches of sin are understood as offshoots from the fruit of the Tree of Death, planted in Eve’s heart in Eden in the composite Junius Genesis, the mere’s frosty trees serve as a reminder to the attentive reader of the continuing grasp of evil over humankind.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: (c) 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Beowulf; Old English poetry; trees; woodland; ecocriticism
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Mike Bintley
    Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2019 12:37
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:45


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