Beowulf Summary: Books 1-16 Simplfied
Grendel is sitting in his home: hell. He is looking for something to do until he sees that king Hrothgar, king of the danes, built a great hall of Herot. He decides that he is going to murder the people who now reside in herot.
Grendel arrives at Herot, killing thirty men in the hall. The rest of them then mourn and try to either fight or escape, but anyone who fights is killed and anyone who runs is dead.
Meanwhile, Beowulf is being king of the Geats in his homeland. He hears of the news from someone and decides that he will use his sheer heroism to help them out.
Beowulf comes into Herot, boasting to the king about how great he is, what tasks he has accomplished, and how he will be the one to defeat Grendel.
The king contemplates the proposal Beowulf has put forward, and says that though Beowulf’s father might not be pleased with the decision, he decides to give the position to Beowulf.
Beowulf is in the hall of Herot with his friends celebrating when all of a sudden Unferth arrives out of nowhere, angry at Beowulf. He says that beowulf had once done a swimming contest with a friend Brecca, and that while Brecca and him both nearly drowned, Brecca at least made it out faster than Beowulf.
Beowulf boasts of that accusation by saying that he had simply been fighting a sea monster, until several more had shown up. His men cheered for him, and they feasted some more until they finally decided that it was time to go to bed in the halls of Herot.
Beowulf grabs the arm of Grendel, who is now struck with fear. He then decides to fight him alone, without any weapons or his men. Only with his bear hands.
Beowulf’s men come to join the battle, but they can’t really do anything since their weapons don’t work. Finally, Beowulf rips off the arm of Grendel, who limps away to safety.
The men celebrate, thinking that Grendel is dead. His arm which was torn off, is now hanging up in the hall.
Hrothgar is essentially describing the place where Grendel and his mother live to Beowulf, and pleading him to once again save the day.
Beowulf leaves to go to the hell under the lake where Grendel and his mom live. He finds the mother first, and tries to attack her with a sword that doesn’t work. He then wrestles with her for a while until…
Beowulf ends up killing Grendel’s mom with a conviniently placed giant magical sword on the wall behind him, and after he does that he decides to kill Grendel once and for all by decapitating him.
Beowulf goes off to fight the dragon on his own, but his shield and sword didn’t work, leading him to be mortally wounded by the dragon. All looks lost…
Wiglaf, one of Beowulf’s men, is a brave enough man to help Beowulf with fighitng off and killing the dragon. Beowulf tells him he wants to see the treasure the dragon had hoarded, so Wiglaf brings some back to show him. He then decides to give Wiglaf all of his possesions, since he had decided to help him out.
The men of Beowulf ride around during the day, mourning the fact that their leader is now dead.