Beowulf Critical Reading Questions

Contrast the description of Herot with the dwelling of the monster Grendel. The contrast of Herot with the dwelling of the monster, Grendel, is that Grendel is down in the darkness like in hell and that Herot is above ground in the light like a heaven.
What annoys Grendel and leads to his attacks? The music annoys Grendel and lead him to his attacks.
Read the Translator’s Insight on pg. 43. What does the information reveal about Grendel? The information reveals that Grendel is naturally evil and does not have the traits to be heroic.
Read lines 79-85. How does the poem establish that the coming battle is not just a battle between a hero and a monster, but it is also a battle between good and evil? Grendel is evil because he is ruthless, unfair, dishonorable, and bloodthirsty. Creation is good. Grendel wouldn’t touch Hrothgar’s throne because it is protected by God.
Why does Beowulf travel to Herot? What do his motives tell you about his character? Beowulf traveled to Herot because he heard how Grendel filled the nights with horror. His motives told me that his character is brave enough to go against the monster.
Based on the descriptions of Beowulf in lines 109-122, what qualities were valued by the Anglo-Saxons? Being brave, strong, fearless, and a leader were valued by the Anglo-Saxons.
Read lines 173-179. What does Beowulf’s way of identifying himself suggest about the values of a warrior culture? Beowulf’s way of identifying himself suggest that the values of a warrior culture is important because his father was a leader, famous soldier known far and wide, and lasted many winters.
How does Beowulf’s boasts of past deeds and his announcement of his plan establish him as a hero? Beowulf’s boasts of past deeds and his announcement of his plan established him as a hero because he killed monsters one by one, chained five great giants, came out of a battle “dripping with my enemies”, death was his errand, his youth was filled with glory, and his motivation is “purge evil” from Herot.
What reason does Beowulf give for fighting barehanded? The reason that Beowulf give for fighting barehanded is that Higlac would not honor him and it would be a fair fight because the only weapons Grendel uses are his claws.
What are Grendel’s goals as he approaches and enters Herot? What is Grendel’s motivation to have and work for these goals? As he approaches and enters Herot, his goal is to kill anyone he could trap. Grendel’s motivation to have and work for these goals is the joy he receives from killing.
Read the Translator’s Insight on pg. 50. Which details from the text show that Grendel is facing more difficulty than he has in the past? Grendel is facing more difficulty than he has in the past because once the monsters find themselves in a fair fight, they immediately win.
Which details from the battle’s description add realism? Which details add epic grandness? Beowulf’s grip on Grendel’s claw from the battle adds realism. Beowulf’s strong hold breaks off Grendel’s arm and shoulder letting him run off but his wound is fatal so he will eventually dies adds epic grandness.
How does Beowulf’s battle with Grendel end? Beowulf’s battle with Grendel ended by ripping his arm off.
How does the description of the monsters’ lair further development their evil natures? The description of the monsters’ lair further developed their evil natures because they lived in secret places that steams like black clouds, is covered with frozen spray, has snakelike roots, no wisdom, and it burns like a torch.
Read the Translator’s Insight on pg. 53. How does the motivation for honor amplify the character of Beowulf? The motivation for honor amplified the character of Beowulf because he was a true dedicated warrior.
How does the poet heighten the suspense in the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother? The poet heighten the suspense in the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother by Grendel’s mother welcoming him in her claws, clutching him savagely but couldn’t harm him. Then she carried to her home while he was struggling to free his weapon. The fight had brought other monsters when he realized that she’d brought him into someone’s battle-hall.
What can we infer about Beowulf’s values based on his decision to take home Grendel’s head but leave the rich treasure behind? Beowulf’s values based on his decision to take home Grendel’s head but leave the rich treasure behind inferred that the head was some sort of trophy to show what he has done to the Geats.
How does the older Beowulf compare to his younger self, the one that victoriously battled Grendel and his mother? This older Beowulf compared to his younger self will fight again still seeking fame.
Paraphrase the events of Beowulf’s battle with the dragon. Beowulf approaches the dragon with confidence, standing firm as the dragon breathes fire. Beowulf’s shield begins to melt, so Beowulf attacks with his sword but it does not go deep enough. Beowulf realizes he may die and his fellow soldiers run away in fear.
What do lines 720-739 reveal about the values of warrior culture? Weapons and armor were highly valued and were one of the most important things a son inherited from this father.
How are lines 645-692 a turning point in the epic? Unlike his previous battles against monsters, Beowulf is loosing this one. Fate is against them.
What appeals does Wiglaf use in his speech to his comrades? The appeals that Wiglaf uses in his speech to his comrade is loyalty since they owe Beowulf, “repay him” with “kindness with kindness” or “with our lives”, “took us for soldiers” and “believ[ed] in our promises”, generosity because they “gave us these swords/armor” and “allowed us to join him”, and Beo “their lord” needs “younger arms” to help him as he is “butchered” with “flames swirling around” him, and it appears to their sense of loyalty and decency and how they can “carry home (their) shields “without having to help Beowulf”.
In Beowulf’s death scene, what is shown about the importance of the remembrance of individuals after death? Being remembered is the upmost importance.
What are Beowulf’s last requests? Beowulf’s last requests were to have Wiglaf look after the people, order thane to construct Beowulf’s Barrow on a headland by the coast, and bury him there with all the treasure.
What has Beowulf left his people? Consider both tangible and intangible gifts? Beowulf left his people the dragon’s hoard.
Explain how the poem, by keeping Beowulf’s memory alive, keep a culture’s values alive. This poem keeps the culture’s value alive because it truly represents the importance of loyalty, bravery, generosity, fate, ancestory, and warlike people who fight until death.
Compare the way the epic commemorates Beowulf with the way our culture celebrates its heroes. Beowulf is a hero who shows valor, military prowess, loyalty, generosity, and honor in a “shame culture” where a good name is most important. Our heroes are honored for their same characteristics in a culture where reputation is important.
Explain how each creature Beowulf battles represents an extreme and dangerous form of warrior values and behaviors.

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