Beowulf – Story

Beowulf – Story

Beowulf themes
good vs evil
christian vs paganism
fate vs choice
honor and loyalty
the splendors of this world are temporary and will fade
Warrior Society
valued:
-loyalty
-honor
-wealth
“gifting” (doing something for another person and expected something back in return
-boasting (excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievement, possessions and ability)
Heroic Code
-prowess (bravery in battle)
-justice
-loyalty
-defense
-courage
-faith
-humility
-largesse (generosity in bestowing money or gifts upon others)
-must perform a great ennobling deed
-accept death as a fact of life
Who is Beowulf?
-a Geat
-famous warrior who comes and kills Grendel, Grendel’s mother and a dragon
-rules as king of Geatland for 50 years in peace and prosperity
Describe Heorot. For what purpose was it built?
A beautiful towering place, gabled and huge, made of timber built under Hrothgar to hold his mighty “band” (warriors), host banquets, gather the danes together
Why did Grendel begin attacking the Danes? For how many years (winters) did his attacks continue?
The music in the hall was too loud and they sang happy and boisterous songs while he was in the darkness alone
– the Danes opposed him because of his ancestor
– was an outsider who wanted in
– vengeful.His attacks lasted 12 years (winters)
Who is Grendel’s ancestor
Cain
What clue in the “Prologue” can you find that demonstrates that the story of Beowulf has its roots in the oral tradition
It talks in first person (“we”)
auditory call to attention
talks as if someone was telling it to someone
Hrothgar
was a great King and leader
was innovative within and without battle
was gracious and generous determined
fighter
powerful
loyal
respected”Led the Danes to such glory”
“he thought of greatness”
phrases that identify Grendel as the enemy

“That demon, that fiend, Grendel”

“Made his home in hell”
“Spawned in that slime”
“conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain”
“A brood forever opposing the lord’s will”

Wulfgar tells Beowulf and his mean to leave their weapons at the door and of in to see Hrothgar. Beowulf orders a few of his men to stay with the weapons. What does this incident say about the culture and custom of the times, and what does it say about Beowulf himself?

That even if they were visiting for the noblest of reasons that they really can’t trust anyone other than their kin

Wanted to have warriors stay behind incase something bad did happen to them and to protect the weapons

Showcases Beowulf’s respect, and intellect

Beowulf insists on fighting the monster with his bare hands. Why? Beowulf states that the winner will be determined by God. What theme does this suggest
Beowulf wants to fight fairly and doesn’t want to hide behind a shield, sword and armor (does this our of honor and pride) suggests a theme of fate is determined by God
What is the effect of Grendel’s spell on the weapons? Identify the cause of Beowulf’s power over Grendel

Grendel makes all weapons blunt and useless against him

Beowulf’s power is from God (who is on his side)

What does Hrothgar “gift” to Beowulf for his service? How is the action a reflection of the warrior code and the Anglo-Saxon culture?

Hrothgar gives Beowulf gifts of armor, horses, weapons, a corselet, rings and a collar

reflects how the anglo -saxon culture was to give something in return for being saved to say “thanks”

Hrothgar gives Beowulf gifts of armor, horses, weapons, a corselet, rings and a collar reflects how the anglo-saxon culture was to give something in return for being saved to say “thanks”
God is given the credit for Grendel’s defeat
This brings conflict because Grendel’s mother is sad and vengeful for the death of Grendel
Why does Grendel’s mother attack Aeschere?

She wants vengeance against Hrothgar because her son was killed on his orders

She wants him to feel the pain that she felt so she killed his closest friend

wants to make hrothgar to suffer

Describer the mere (the lake). the battle with Grendel’s mother will be force by itself, but how is the mere, where the battle will take place, an added challenge for Beowulf?
-The mere is a haunting lake with trees growing rampant and water that boils
-murky, dirty
-steaming water
-associates it with the images of hell-Beowulf doesn’t have a “home advantage” and Grendel’s mom does
-HE doesn’t know the very dangerous landscape, so he has to navigate it and fight her at the time whereas Grendel’s mom lives there so she knows how to navigate it easily
What is ironic about the statement “she welcomed him in her claws”? (Grendel’s mother to Beowulf)
Welcoming someone is supposed to be nice and pleasant but instead the statement is used in reference to her attacking him
How does Beowulf’s fight with Grendel’s mother differ from the typical heroic battle, while also adding to the story’s suspense?
He isn’t doing well at all and it isn’t a lot of back and fourth It adds to the stories suspense because the reader wants to know if this will be the end of Beowulf
Why is Grendel’s mother’s attack on Beowulf with the knife unsuccessful
His chainmail armor stops it from hurting him
Name of Beowulf’s sword?
hrunting
When Beowulfs sword, hrunting, is not effective in killing Grendel’s mother. How does Beowulf become victorious in the battle?
He used a sword, shaped as a cross that was carved by giants that was hanging on a wall and cuts off Grendel’s mothers head
Symbolism, that Grendel can do no more harm Honor for Hrothgar and sort of a trophy
After Beowulf’s second victory (in the battle with Grendel’s mother), he returns to Gaetland a hero
assumes the kingship, and rules peacefully over his land for 50 years
what disrupts Beowulf’s peaceful rule after 50 years
a fierce dragon threatens the Gaets after someone steals something from its barrow
What was stolen from the dragon’s barrow?
a gem studded cup
Who stole the gem studded cup from the dragon and why?
A man who stumbled and found the hidden path to the dragons stone tower
How does the dragon react to being stolen from?
the dragon is enraged and vengeful.
begins to attack the countryside and setting fire to buildings by night
Name lines that indicate that this fight against the dragon will be Beowulf’s last battle

“…And Beowulf uttered his FINAL boast”

“Then he said farewell to his followers, Each in his turn, for the LAST TIME”

Why doesn’t Beowulf fear the dragon?
Wants to kill the dragon puts his fate into God’s hands
Why does he want to fight the dragon alone

wants to protect his people even if the means he dies**

His last battle-wants this victory for himself and for his legacy after he’s gone

What is ironic about the poet’s description of Beowulf’s followers?
The poet describes them as brave and noble yet they neglect to help Beowulf and run away
What element of the hero’s code motivate the one warrior who does remain behind to help
kinship
What is the name of the brave warrior who stays behind to help Beowulf? What reasons are given for the warrior’s loyalty?

Wiglaf had seen Beowulf suffering, burning and remembered everything the things had done for his family

Values the warriors code-especial kinship loyalty to Beowulf- wants to be like him

What does Wiglaf say to Beowulf to encourage him against the dragon?
reminds him of all his fights
tells him he can’t give up
needs to fight for his name/ legacy
Is the preservation of one’s fame worth the loss of life from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxon society?

the preservation of one’s fame is worth the loss of life in the perspective of anglo-saxon society

their legacy is important and they want to remembered for all the good/heroic things they did

What had fate decreed about the hero concerning his weapons that is evidenced in this battle against the dragon and which was also seen during Beowulf’s previous battles?

Fated had decreed that Beowulf would be no better with any weapon

looked as the superhero who didn’t need outside materialistic things to win a battle

What about the warrior code makes Wiglaf withheld his help initially? At what point during Beowulf’s battle with the dragon does Wiglaf step in?
Wiglaf wants to preserve Beowulf’s glory since this was his last battle
-knew that Beowulf’s legacy was important and respected itWiglaf officially steps in when he is needed most, after Beowulf’s new is bitten from the dragon.Was There to help but wasn’t there to strike the death blow- that was for Beowulf to carry out his legacy
how are both Beowulf and the dragon totally wonder?

Beowulf’s neck had been bitten from the dragons tusks and bled “like rain” which can not be stopped and results in his death

wiglaf strikes the dragon lower down from its head which allows Beowulf to cut the beast in half with the remaining strength he has left resulting in the dragon’s death

As Beowulf nears death, he recounts his life and summarizes his accomplishment. What kind of a ruler did he consider himself to be, what does he value most, and what does he apparently regret?

Beowulf considered himself to be a great ruler who had no trouble during his ruling (did rule for 50 years peacefully)

He values **

He regrets **

Describe Beowulf’s last wishes.

Instructs Wiglaf to bring him some of the dragon’s gold so he can see the treasures they fought for-boastfulness and reminder of his victory

Beowulf’s last wishes are for his body to be burned and for he brave Gaets to build him a tomb, named Beowulf’s tower, at the water’s edge on the spit of land so sailors could see his tower and recall who he was (continuous of his legacy)

What does Beowulf give to Wiglaf and what does this gesture mean and perhaps foreshadow for the Gaets as well?

Beowulf gives Wiglaf his golden necklace, helmet, rings, and his mailshirtt

– orders him to use it wisely

Gesture implies that Wiglaf will take the throne now in replacement of Beowulf and rule as the new king since he does not have a heir Beowulf was the last of his family line

-wanted to hand it over to someone who had that loyalty and courage like himself

Beowulf is rewarding Wiglaf for his courage and loyalty

Describe the custom of dealing with the body of a noble warrior and king

Helmets, battle shields and shining mail shirts were hung around heaps of wood around high wood which Beowulf laid on

**warriors go around recalling all of the heroic deeds Beowulf had accomplished

Body is burned

What purpose does the gnarled old woman serve in the final canto of this epic? (what does she seem to be predicting and why?)

Gnarled old woman serves in the final canto of this epic the grief and sorrow that has been brought by Beowulf’s death.

Predicts the mourning and infinite sadness that will always be happening to everybody now that Beowulf is gone

foreshadows that their society will fade away-no longer a leader to unite them as Beowulf had.