Beowulf – Lit Charts & Spark Notes

the king of the Danes in southern Denmark Hrothgar
Builds a magnificent mead-hall as a symbol of his power and prosperity Hrothgar
name of mead-hall Herot
Who is Grendel? A monster said to be a descendant of Cain, angered by the mirth of the men and music in the mead-hall; he raids the hall and eats some of the men before returning to his home in the marsh nightly until no one dares to sleep in the hall
Beowulf’s father Ecgtheow
How long has Herot been a place of terror and shame because of Grendel’s raids? 12 years – Beowulf is now determined to fight the monster
young warrior of the Geats in southern Sweden who is determined to fight he monster Grendel Beowulf
After Hrothgar accepts Beowulf’s offer to fight Grendel, this man and Beowulf exchange insults Unferth, a warrior loyal to Hrothgar
What is Beowulf famous for and how does he use it against Grendel? His powerful grip (“as strong as the grip of thirty men”) —- When Grendel reaches for Beowulf, he grips Grendel and tears off his shoulder and arm and his arm is hung as a trophy under the roof of Herot when Grendel leaves to die
Who comes to Herot during the 2nd feast seeking revenge after Beowulf kills Grendel? Grendel’s mother
lives at the bottom of a lake Grendel’s mother
Who does Grendel’s mother consume before returning home? Aeschere – a favorite warrior and advisor to Hrothgar
What does Beowulf and the men do after Grendel’s mother eats Aeschere? The men follow her tracks to the lake where Beowulf swims for a while before reaching Grendel’s mother’s cave home. He fights her.
Sword that fails for the first time during Beowulf’s battle underwater with Grendel’s mother Hrunting – Unferth lent to Beowulf as a sign of fellowship
What does Beowulf use to fight Grendel’s mother after Hrunting fails for the first time? He grabs a sword from the treasure hoard in the cave that was seized by giants a long time ago (blade melted when touched by the monsters blood bc it was poisonous) —- Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother
After Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother, what does he do? Beowulf sees Grendel’s body and removed his head and returns to Hrothgar with it and the giants sword
Beowulf’s uncle and the king of the Geats Hygelac (queen was Hygd) — accept the treasure Beowulf gives them & in turn gives Beowulf a sword, land, and praise
Hygelac is killed by The Swedes
Who takes over throne when Hygelac is killed? His son Heardred – he is young but had Beowulf’s support
When Heardred dies, who takes the throne of the Geats? Beowulf – rules in great prosperity and fame for fifty years
How does Beowulf die? A thief fiends a passageway into an old barrow & a dragon guard a treasure hoard left over from survivors of extinct people from long ago. When the thief steals the cup, the dragon notices and burns the land, including Beowulf’s mead-hall. Beowulf, even though he’s old (prob not the best decision he had made) decides to fight the dragon. All of Beowulf’s men flee except for Wiglaf and they go on to kill the dragon. Beowulf is left wounded and will soon die.
What is Beowulf’s last request? For Wiglaf to rule on after him and to build him a funeral barrow that overlooks he sea— he also asks Wiglaf to return to the cave to retrieve some of the treasures ( Wiglaf is given Beowulf’s golden necklace in turn)
Who is Beow? Hrothgar’s grandfather
Who stops Beowulf when he first arrives from Geatland to help the Danes? A lookout who guards the sea-cliffs
Why does Unferth disparage Beowulf’s reputation with a story about a battle at sea? Unferth is jealous of Beowulf
Who do Beowulf and Breca swim out to sea to fight? Sea monsters
What boast or promise does Beowulf make to Wealhtheow, the queen? He’ll slay Grendel or die trying.
Who is Sugemund, whom the Danish bard sings about to celebrate Beowulf’s victory? A great hero who slew a dragon
What does Beowulf say when he is thanked for his heroic deed? He expresses regret hat he mortally wounded Grendel but did not kill him.
Hrothgar does what by celebrating Beowulf’s defeat if Grendel? Wins the respect of the Danes for ruling justly.
What gifts is Beowulf given at the victory feast? Fine horses, treasure, armour, and a resplendent torque
Who loses to whom in the beginning of the saga of Finn (the Frisian King) that the bard tells? The Danes lose to the Frisians
In the saga, why is finn’s danish wife, Huldeburth, so devastated by the outcome of the battle? Her son and brother are killed
How does the saga of Finn end? The Danes wait out the winter and then kill Finn, loot the castle, and abscond the Denmark’s with Hildeburth.
What does Beowulf bring back to Kin Hrothgar as a prize? Grendel’s decapitated headband the July of a melted sword
Why does Hrothgar talk about the evil king Heremond? As a contrast to Beowulf’s nobility and honor
After the victory feast, where does Beowulf tell Hrothgar he wants to go? Back to Geatland
What take does Beowulf tell Hygelac at great length? The story of his trip to Herot and his battles with Grendel and his Mother
Who is Queen Modryth? A legendary queen who was evil until she got married to a great king and reformed herself
What does Beowulf predict for Hrothgar and the Danes when Hrothgar’s daughter marries? It will cause the tragic worsening of an old feud with the Heathobards
Why does Beowulf take the dragon’s attacks so personally? The dragon burns down Beowulf’s throne-hall
What vision does Beowulf have before the battle with the dragon? He predicts he will die.
How does Beowulf’s sword fail bum when he fights the dragon? First he sword barely harms the dragon and later it breaks
How does the dragon die? Wiglaf stabs his belly, then Beowulf delivers the final blow.
What does Beowulf die of? He receives a poisonous dragon bite on his neck
Beowulf is a hero in youth because he is strong and brave, but why is he a hero as an older man? Because of his sense of honor and responsibility
What defines Hrothgar’s leadership? Stability
Why is Unferth a foil (contrasting character) to Beowulf? Unferth’s jealousy and shame make Beowulf’s honor and night clearer
What does Wiglaf represent? The future and the next generation of hero’s
Why are the characters so concerned with family heritage and identity? So they can live up to past ideals and ensure they are remembered
How does medieval Christianity play out in the tale? It creates a tension with traditional pagan codes
How can the duty of a warrior vs that of a king be summarized? The quest for personal glory vs responsibility for a people
How was the story of Beowulf first told? It was told orally for many generations before being written down
Why is the grading after Beowulf’s defeat of Grendel so important? It represents the return to order and new hope after turmoil

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