Beowulf Quotes

“he had ruled them with his word” Scop to reader about Scyld. Significance- he threatens them and backs up his word. Opening Scene.
“Men cannot truthfully say who received that cargo” Scop to reader about Scyld. Significance- Christian overlay on Pagan belief. Opening Scene.
“A sharp-witted shield-warrior who thinks well must be able to judge each of the two things, words and works.” Guard to Beowulf. Significance- This quote is comparing the old belief of ruling (Scyld and his threats) to the new ruling( gifts and good deeds). Also a theme. Beowulf’s arrival to Heorot.
“He might not approach the throne, receive treasure, because of the Lord; he had no love for him.” Scop to reader about Grendel. Significance- The theme of isolation and exclusion is evident by Grendel’s rampages on Heorot. He terrorizes them out of jealousy and is also cain’s descendant. By mentioning Cain and the Lord, the narrator adds a Christian overlay to the context. Opening Scene.
“Fate always goes as it must” Beowulf to Hrothgar. Significance- major theme, allusion to christ accepting fate on the cross. Entrance to Heorot, first meeting.
“where for pride you explored the water and for foolish boast ventured your lives in the deep. Unferth to Beowulf. Significance- Theme of reputation, “words and works”. Unferth does not have the right to say this because he has not proven himself. He has not defeated grendel and even killed a kin. Feast at Heorot.
“Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good.” Beowulf to Unferth. Significance: Theme of fate, courage, and mixing of pagan and christianity. Courage is a possible intervention of fate.Feast at Heorot.
“If your spirit as fierce as you claim” Beowulf to Unferth. Significance: Words and Works theme. Unferth arrogance needs to be backed up, however he does not have the works to prove it for grendel still terrorize. Cannot judge Beowulf, should look at himself first. Feast at Heorot.
“remember your fame, show your great courage, keep watch against the fierce foe” Hrothgar to Beowulf. Significance: Old giving way to new, words and works, and identity. Hrothgar’s advice is for Beowulf to be mindful of his deed and show courage which may lead to the theme of intervention. Feast at Heorot.
“His heart was eager to get away” Scop to reader about Grendel. Theme- Courage. Significance- this is the first time that Grendel shows fear. Grendel had previously ruled like Scyld with terror. As Grendel does not show courage, fate will not save him. Battle with Grendel.
“Glory in battle was given to Beowulf… a deed to make famous his courage.” Scop to reader about Beowulf. Theme- Courage, identity. Significance- Beowulf was given credit rather than god ( Pagan v. Christianity). Also Beowulf backs up his boast made during the feast.Battle with Grendel.
“There like a man outlawed for guilt, he shall await the great judgment.” Beowulf to Hrothgar. Intertwining of Pagan and Christian belief. Celebration at Heorot after Grendel’s defeat.
“Whatever women brought forth this son among mankind- if she still lives- that the god of old was kind to her in her childbearing.” Hrothgar to Beowulf. Pagan v. Christian. This quote represents Beowulf’s mother as the Virgin Mary, thus making Beowulf into a christ figure. Another example of the role of women which is to take care of the home and raise the kids. Celebration after Grendel’s defeat.
“He would have killed more if wise God and the man’s courage had not forestalled that fate. Scop about Grendel. Theme- Fate, Intervention, Courage, Christian v. Pagan. Beowulf’s courage influences the course of fate with is the christian overlay. Celebration after Grendel’s defeat.
“Sorrow not wise warrior. It is better for a man to avenge his friend than much mourn” Beowulf to Hrothgar. Pagan v christianity. Beowulf always mentions god’s will and etc, however he is telling Hrothgar to follow a pagan belief or revenge. After Grendel’s mother attack
“He did not himself dare to risk his life under the warring waves, to engage his courage: there he has lost his glory, his name for valor. Scop about Unferth. Unferth acknowledges Beowulf as the better man for he himself cannot back up his own words. After Grendel’s mother attack
“The blaze brightened, light shone within, just as the sky heaven’s candle shines clear” Scop to reader. Theme of Good light. This is right after Beowulf defeats grendel’s mother in her lair. This may be an allegory of Jesus descent into hell and the light shining in represents his resurrection.
“Keep yourself against that wickedness…have no care for pride” Hrothgar to Beowulf. Theme- old giving way to new. Hrothgar is giving Beowulf advice on how to be a good leader and warns him of the common fall of heroes-pride. After Grendel’s mother defeat.
“he will further me with words and works” Beowulf to Hrothgar. Beowulf is speaking about Hygelac and this shows a thane and kings’s relationship ( theme of loyalty). Hygelac is a king who keeps the idea of words and works for he gives beowulf and his other thanes treasure and does not threaten them in contrast with scyld. Beowulf is about to return home.
“he had two thoughts of the future… they would not see each other again” Scop to reader about Hrothgar. Theme- Fate, Old giving way to new. This quote is foreshadowing that Hrothgar is going to die soon as everyone is fated to do. Beowulf is about to return home.
” I was not fated to die then” Beowulf to Hygelac. Theme – fate and intervention (pagan v christianity) Beowulf recounts his tale of his encounter with grendels mother.
“He had no fear of himself of the combat… he himself had come though many battles before” Scop about Beowulf. Has beowulf given way to pride? or does he just have courage? Before the battle with the Dragon/
“He gave up the joys of men, chose God’s light” Beowulf to men. Beowulf recounts the tale of Herebeald whose son murder another son. He was unable to get vengeance (pagan idea) and ends up dying in sorrow. Pagan v christianity.Before the battle with the Dragon/
“There for the first time.. he might not prevail, since fate did not assign him such glory in battle. Scop about Beowulf. Beowulf is old and does not have the strength he did before, eventually he will have to pass on the title to a younger man. Theme- Fate, old giving way to new. battle with Dragon
“last moment of victory for his own deeds, of work in the world.” Scop about Beowulf. This is his final work and connects with theme of “words and Works” Beowulf has fullfilled his promise of slaying the dragon however fate believe it is time for him to go. Battle with dragon
“Now there shall cease…receiving of treasures.. death is better for any earl than a life of blame” Wiglaf to Beowulf’s men. Wiglaf has earned the right as king and right to scold the men, he is an embodiment of loyalty. He is received as the new for Beowulf pass the right to him, ushering in a new reign. Wiglaf has proven his “words and works” and as king he can take away their gifts. Beowulf’s death/funeral
“Often many a man must suffer distress for the will of one man as has happened to us” Wiglaf to Beowulf’s men. This may be seen as speaking on 2 different levels. The first level is the thief and masters’ deed or work that causes distress for the kingdom. The 2nd level is Beowulf for leaving his kingdom open to invasion for insisting on battling the dragon. So is beowulf a good king or did he succumb to pride?

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