The monsters in the poem threaten several of the Anglo-Saxon values that Beowulf defends. In addition, Grendel is Beowulf’s shadow--the monster represents values that the Anglo-Saxon society of which Beowulf is a member and, indeed, a leader. In exiling him from human company, God has cut him off from humanity. The attitudes, beliefs, emotions, ideas, and other qualities that Grendel embraces are spurned by the Danes and Geats. He, his mother, and their kind, as well as their values, are rejected by Beowulf and his people and by the other peoples of their world.
In myths that have developed a concept of paradise, such as that of the Norse, one can easily discern the social values behind or beneath the idea of heaven. These are the sources, in fact, of the bliss that the blessed experience in paradise. In Norse mythology, Valhalla, as the Hall of the Slain, is the warriors’ portion of the paradisiacal Asgard. By day, the dead warriors, restored to life, feast, drink, and enjoy the attentions of their Valkyrie lovers. In the afternoon, they take to the heavenly battlefield and hack at one another with axes, stab and slice one another to pieces with swords, and club one another with spiked maces, to be made restored to life, health, and wholeness at the end of the day by Odin. The cycle is repeated until the advent of Ragnarok, the final battle between the gods and the frost giants that ushers in a new age. The ticket to Valhalla is valor; only the warriors who die courageously on the battlefield are selected as residents of the Norse paradise. Those who die of illness or old age spend their afterlives in Hel. It is easy to identify the values that these myths reflect and their opposites, the threats against the values:
According to the New Testament, the “fruits of the Spirit” number nine and, together, comprise a truly loving and godly personality; their opposites represent threats to such a personality:
In Christianity, Satan is Jesus’ shadow (in the Jungian sense), because Satan is able to tempt Jesus. Therefore, Satan represents qualities or things that Jesus would like to have. Instead, Jesus represses his desires for these things, resisting the devil. To ask what Jesus values, we need simply to identify the temptations with which Satan tempted him. There were three.
In the first, Satan invited Jesus to end his fast by transforming a stone into a loaf of bread.
In the second, Satan challenged Jesus to throw himself down from a high place, arguing that God would send his angels to protect Jesus from harm.
In the third, Satan told Jesus that if he would worship him, Satan would give Jesus dominion over the world.
It seems that Jesus was tempted to set aside his dependence upon God for his food, to demonstrate his status as the Son of God and of God’s love for him as such, and to take upon himself the rule of humanity. In each case, Jesus was tempted to act according to his own will and to accomplish his desires in his own way, as Satan did when he rebelled against God and was exiled from heaven. Satan tempts Jesus to act out of pride rather than humility and out of his own will rather than out of faith. These are the impulses within himself that Jesus represses.