Beowulf Reading Guide Questions and Answers

The Battle with Grendel (pg. 50-54)
What theme is depicted in God’s hatred of Grendel? Why does Grendel bear God’s hatred? Is there a connection with Grendel being described in line 243 as “forever joyless”? Explain. Good versus evil; he could not know God’s love; yes, he is joyless without the love of God. At the beginning of the poem, Hrothgar was described as “joyless.”
State one kenning and one example of alliteration in lines 233-243. Gold-shining hall (Herot); sliding silently, swampland; high Herot; trap on this trip.
What evidence reinforces Grende;’s overpowering strength? Snaps door open; tears fasteners with a touch.
What imagery is evident when Grende enters Herot? “Snarling and fierce”; “eyes gleamed”; “sleeping warrior stuffed with rows of young soldiers”
How did Grendel react when he saw the warriors? Heart laughed — relished the sight of feasting on these soldiers.
Describe the death of one of the Geats killed by Grendel. Grendel ripped him apart, cut his body to bits with his powerful jaws, drank his blood, bolted him down (hands and feet).
What oxymoron is present on line 270? The stock epithet? Wakeful sleeper; strong-hearted wakeful sleeper.
State two kennings (on line 273) describing Grendel. Shepherd of evil; guardian of crime.
How does Grendel react to Beowulf’s grip? How do Grendel’s feelings parallel the feelings of the Hrothgar’s men? Fearful (mind flooded with fear); could not break Beowulf’s grip; wants to flee to is marsh and hide there the same way Hrothgar’s men wanted to flee Herot and Grendel’s attack. There was a different Herot.
Why wouldn’t Beowulf let Grendel flee? Remembered his boast to his king to kill Grendel.
What “physical damage” does Beowulf inflict upon Grendel? Cracked his claws.
State alliteration found on lines 283-285. The monster’s flight, fastened those claws/In his fists till they cracked, clutched Grendel/Closer.
How does Herot withstand the battle between Grendel and Beowulf? “high hall rang”, “roof boards swayed”, “Herot trembled”, “building stood firm”
What is inferred about the destruction of Herot? Destroyed by fire.
Why is Grendel screaming in the darkness? Shrieks of pains and defeat, tears torn out of Grendel.
State the kennings and alliteration found in lines 305-324. Kennings: Almighty’s enemy; hell’s captive, mighty protector of men, sin-stained demon.Alliteration: Tears torn out of Grendel’s taut throat; captive caught.
Why are Beowulf’s men unable to help him in his fight with Grendel? Grendel’s places spell on weapons to blunt the blades.
What discovery is made by Grendel? The price for feuding with God.
What imagery is used to depict Beowulf’s final assault on Grendel? Sinews in shoulder snapped; muscle and bone split and broke.
Does Grendel die in Herot? Explain. No. He is mortally wounded but escapes, then goes to underwater lair to die.
What proof is present of Beowulf’s promises to the Danish people? Grendel’s arm, claw, and shoulder hanging from the rafters of Herot.
How do these ancient people exhibit similar traits of people today? Desire to see the gruesome evidence of Grendel’s defeat, from the claw to the bloody footprints.
Why is the water of the lake “bloody, steaming, and boiling”? Evil pouring out from Grendel – “hell opened to receive him”.
State two examples of alliteration in lines 375-379. Hard-hooved horses, high-spirited stallions.
How did the Danes honor Beowulf? Sang of his greatness; wove Beowulf into their history which will give Beowulf immortality.
Grendel’s Mother (pg. 55-56)
How is the revenge of Grendel’s mother characterized? What damage did Grendel’s mother inflict upon the Danes? Her revenge is bloody, fierce, and fast. She reversed the good luck of the Danes, fought with power and courage, and smashed shining swords.
State examples of alliteration found in lines 397-409. Smashing their shining swords; bloody, hammer forged blades onto boar-headed helmets, slashing stabbing with the sharpest swords, swung.
Who is the victim of Grendel’s mother? Hrothgar’s closest friend – a glorious soldier.
Why couldn’t Beowulf and his men help? Given shelter and sleep in a different hall.
Besides taking Hrothgar’s closest friend, what else does she take with her? Grendel’s claw (line 421).
What imagery does Hrothgar use to describe the dark lake where Grendel lives with his mother? Mist steams like black clouds; groves of trees all covered with frozen spray; snakelike roots; lake burns like a torch.
What proof is offered to confirm the lake’s evil nature? Deer would prefer to die on the shores rather than save its life by going into the water.
How will Hrothgar reward Beowulf for putting an end to Grendel’s mother? Reward him with gold, heaped-up treasure.
The Battle with Grendel’s Mother (pp. 57-61).
What kennings are used to describe Grendel’s mother? Greedy she-wolf; mighty water witch.
How long has she ruled this underwater lair? 50 years.
Although Grendel’s mother “clutched savagely” at Beowulf, what protects him? His armor.
Where does she take him where he is protected from the lake’s heat? “Battle-hall” with a high-arching roof; lake burned all around him but could not hurt him.
Why is Beowulf’s sword, that “sang Beowulf’s strength,” useless against Grendel’s mother? No sword could slice her evil skin.
What also fails to protect Beowulf? His helmet – she bit holes into it.
Name stock epithets used in lines 476-490. Ring-marked blade (476); steel-edged blade (488).
Although Beowulf uses the strength in his hands to fight Grendel’s mother, how does she retaliate? Tears at him with her clutching claws, squats on him with her weight on his stomach, draws a dagger with dried blood to kill him.
What object and deity saves him from the dagger? Woven mail shirt; Holy God – Ruler of the Heavens.
What object does Beowulf find to battle Grendel’s mother? What qualities distinguish this object? Giant’s sword – blessed with their magic, heavy (no ordinary man could lift it), carved and decorated.
How does Beowulf kill Grendel’s mother? Cuts off her head.
What happens immediately after her death? What does it symbolize? Light shone as bright as Heaven’s own candle (sun); good triumphs over evil.
How does Beowulf repay Grendel for the evil inflicted on Hrothgar and his people? Struck off his head with a single blow.
What makes the men who are waiting for Beowulf’s return think that he is dead? Water/waves surging and blood spurting.
What evidence suggests the length of time Beowulf has been gone? 24 hours (left the night before – woke him up; sun slid over past noon, went further down).
What happens to the sword when Beowulf cuts off Grendel’s head? Why is this symbolic? Blade melts; symbolic of evil within Grendel (has no goodness).
What does Beowulf bring with him from the underwater lair? Grendel’s head; hilt of the jeweled (giant’s sword).
How has the lake changed? Why? Calm and clean, lake was peaceful; demons were dead (evil eradicated).
What did Beowulf’s men carry? Helmet, mail shirt, 4 men carried Grendel’s head.
Grendel’s mother Bent on revenge, has claws, very fast, terrible creature, water witch.
Hrunting(object) Beowulf’s sword. (Germanic warriors’ swords were possessions of such value that they were often given names).
Welthow Queen of the Danes, wife of Hrothgar.

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