The Crucifixion In The Dream Ofthe Rood

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The Crucifixion In The Dream Ofthe Rood And Julian Of Norwich Essay, Research Paper The crucifixion of Christ is treated differently within the bodies of Old English and Middle English literature. The values of each era’s society are superimposed on the descriptions of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Christ is depicted either as the model of the hero, prevalent in Old English literature, or as the embodiment of love and passion, as found in Showings by Julian of Norwich. Old English literature establishes the elements of the heroic code, to which its society ascribed. A man must live, or die, by his honor. In The Dream of the Rood the crucifixion of Christ is depicted as the ultimate symbol of heroism, as all mankind bewailed Christ’s death and prepared a gilt cross

for him. “This was surely no felon’s gallows, but holy spirits beheld it there, men upon earth, and all this glorious creation. Wonderful was the triumph-tree, and I stained with sins, wounded with wrongdoings. I saw the tree of glory shine splendidly, adorned with garments, decked with gold, jewels had worthily covered Christ’s tree.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Ed., p. 19) Christ is not rendered as a figure of pathos. Christ is identified with the other glorious warriors of Anglo-Saxon times, such as Beowulf, in this rendering of the cross. It was tradition during the Anglo-Saxon period to bury the honored death with all of the adornments of wealth that they had gained in the earthly life. The Dream of the Rood treats the death of Christ as the

culmination of His glory. As the Rood itself speaks, “Disclose with your words that it is the tree of glory on which Almighty God suffered for mankind’s many sins and the deeds of Adam did of old. He tasted death there; yet the Lord arose again to help mankind in his great might.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Ed., p. 21) Julian of Norwich, an anchoress of Saint Julian, received great visions of the crucifixion of Christ, on what was thought to be her deathbed. According to the Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Ed., her revelation of these visions, Showings, is colored by her experience and temperament as an individual woman. Julian’s depiction of the crucifixion describes Christ’s love for humanity upon his crucifixion. “This I took it

for that time that our Lord Jesu of his courteous love would show me the comfort before the time of my temptation; for me thought it might well be that I should by the sufferance of God and with his keeping be tempted of fiends before I should die.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Ed., p. 294) His choice to die upon the cross seems to be the necessity for the salvation of mankind, not as the manifestation of His inimitable honor and glory. The thanes of the heroic code are bound to their lord by honor. The Dream of the Rood affirms this powerful obligation as the author writes that when God visits us on judgment day, He will ask who would stand fast, unafraid, for Him, their real leader: “Before his host he will ask where the man is who in the name of the Lord

would taste bitter death as he did on the cross.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Ed., p. 21). In addition, the lord is bound to his men. This ideal is continued within the chivalry of the Middle Ages. As a passage of Showings tells the reader: “It is the most worship that a solemn king or a great lord may do a poor servant if he will be homely with him; and namely if he show it himself of a full true meaning and with glad cheer both in private and openly.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Ed., p. 296) However, Julian’s mystical visions imbue a more feminine idea to the crucifixion than does The Dream of the Rood. Showings tells us of Christ as the figure of the trinity left on the cross, but also relates a singularity of motherhood upon his