Beowulf Study Guide

Who is Shield Sheafson? How do the Danes feel about him? Name his descendants for 3 generations. 1. Shield Sheafson is the king of the Danes, he gave birth to Beow.2. The Danes love and respect him.3. Halfdane, Hrothgar, and Beow.
Identify one metaphor that describes Beow as a boy. He is described as a cub in the yard
Describe Shield Sheafson’s burial. Why do you think the Danes observed this ritual? Name at least one other historical burial rite about which you have read. 1. He is placed in a boat surrounded by his gear and treasures, sent off to sea, and then the boat is set on fire.2. I think the Danes observed this burial as a way to show respect.3.
Who is the king of the Danes during the conflict with Grendel? What hall does this king build? 1. Hrothgar is the king at the time.2. He builds Heorot hall
Who is Grendel? What is his origin? What arouses his anger? Why do you think he is affected this way? 1. Grendel is a greedy and grim fiend of hell.2. He is a descendant of the family tree of Cain.3. Joyful sounds, and the story of creation coming from Heorot.4. God cast him into hell, he lives in a place where joy isn’t found. It molded him into who he is now, he can’t feel happiness.
What does Grendel do to bring chaos to Hrothgar’s kingdom? How long has he terrorized the Danes? Why doesn’t Hrothgar try to make peace with him? 1. He sneaks around at night and kills the Danes and eats them.2. He has terrorized them for 12 years.3. Grendel refuses to make peace.
Why doesn’t Grendel take over Hrothgar’s throne? 1. Grendel is an outcast, and he can’t touch the throne.
What do Hrothgar’s counselors do in an attempt to stop Grendel? Why do you think this is unsuccessful. 1. They vow offerings and swear oaths to Pagan gods at shrines.2. They are vowing offerings and swearing oaths to the wrong Gods.
What does the Great warrior plan to do? How do his own people react? 1. He plans to go to Denmark to help the king defend his people.2. They encourage him to go.
How does the Shieldings’ watchman react to the arrival of the Great warriors? Why does he allow them to enter? What do you think this reveals about the Watchman? 1. He demands to know why they came.2. He allows them to enter because he believes Beowulf and his men have come to help.
Identify the leader of the Great warriors. For what characteristic is he known? How do you think he earned this reputation? 1. Beowulf2. His strength3. Since he was little he has been known as a “cub in the yard”
Identify Wulfgar. What is his role? 1. He is a Danish warrior chief2. He questions the Greats and takes them to Hrothgar
How does Beowulf describe his exploits? Do you think he exaggerates? 1. He battled and bound 5 beasts, raided troll’s domains, and killed them, avenged his people against their enemies.2. Yes, of course.
How does Beowulf intend to fight Grendel? Do you think this is feasible? 1. Hand-to-hand combat, no weapons2. No, he’s being pretty dumb
How had Hrothgar once helped Beowulf’s father, Ecgtheow? He paid his financial compensation to Wulfings to settle a feud cause by Ecgtheow.
Who challenges Beowulf’s honor? How does he do so? How does Beowulf respond to the challenge? What do you think this confrontation reveals about each of the men? 1. Unferth2. He gives an inaccurate version of Beowulf’s swim match with Breca.3. Beowulf explains what really happened.4. Unferth lies his way to achieve honor, Beowulf achieves it truthfully.
Who is Wealhtheow? How does she respond to Beowulf? 1. She is Hrothgar’s wife and queen of the Danes.2. She welcomes him warmly.
What does Hrothgar promise Beowulf if he defeats Grendel? Anything he wants.
Prediction: Will Beowulf be successful in his quest to defeat Grendel? Yes, he might die trying though.
What do the other Great warriors think will happen to them? What do you think will happen to Beowulf and the others? 1.2. Beowulf will die
Identify three of the kennings that refer to Grendel in lines 704-789. Captain of evil, dread of the land, terror-monger
What happens when Grendel first enters Heorot Hall? Grendel finds Hrothgar’s men asleep in Heorot. He snatches up thirty men, smashes them, and runs out with their bodies
Describe Beowulf’s battle with Grendel. Why are his warriors unable to help him? What do you think is Beowulf’s strongest attribute? 1. a battle hall filled with lights, neither Grendel’s mother nor the other monsters could break Beowulf’s mail and house a giantsword on the wall and cleaved Grendel’s mother in half2. God chose Beowulf so only he could defeat him.3. His strength
What trophy does Beowulf display after his battle with Grendel? Grendel’s hand and claw.
Identify the place to which Grendel retreats. How do the men trace his trail? Lake with surging bloodshot water filled with gore from wounds; by his bloody trail.
What tale does the minstrel interweave into his song about Beowulf? Why do you think he does so? 1. The story of Sigemund the dragon-slayer.2. beowulf is basically doing the same thing
Whom does Hrothgar credit with sending Beowulf to deliver the Danes from Grendel? Hrothgar credits G-d with sending Beowulf.
What happens in Heorot immediately after Grendel’s defeat? All warriors work to repair the damage from the fight.
What will happen to Grendel? He will be defeated
Quote lines that express Beowulf’s faith in God, his faith in himself, and his belief in fate. Explain which one you think he puts the most faith in or if he believes in them equally.
Identify the force of evil that appears after the warriors have gone to sleep. List and explain two kennings that describe this evil. 1. It’s Grendel’s mom. 2. Two kennings are hell-dam and
Why has evil returned to Heorot? Grendel was killed by Beowulf so his mother is looking for revenge.
Describe the creatures who have been seen prowling the moors. Where do they dwell? What affect do they have? 1. People say it is a huge creature, ghastly, luminous, and spectral. It was a scary creature, a hell-hound. 2. They dwell
What does Hrothgar ask of Beowulf after grendel’s mother kills Aeschere? How does Beowulf respond? what do you think this reveals about him? 1. He asks Beowulf to find Grendel’s mother and kill her.2. Beowulf comforts Hrothgar with tough love and swears to track down Grendel’s mother and kill her.3. It reveals he is a good man, caring.
How does Beowulf arm himself for his battle against Grendel’s mother? He dons himself in armor and girds himself with weapons.
Identify Unferth’s weapon that Beowulf takes into battle. Why doesn’t Unferth use it himself? what do you think this reveals about both of the men? 1. He brings a sword called Hrunting.2. Unferth gives it to beowulf because he is too scared to fight himself.3. It reveals that in the end they have a mutual understanding and care for each other despite the jealous from Unferth.
name two things Beowulf asks Hrothgar to do if he dies in the battle with Grendel’s mother. Why do you think he makes these requests? 1. He wants the treasures he won to be sent to the great King Hygelac, Hrothgar promised to take care of the Great Warriors, and Unferth gets Hrunting back.2. I think he knows he’s going to die so he makes the best out of his soon-to-be death.
Prediction: what will be the outcome of Beowulf’s confrontation with grendel’s mother? He will kill Grendel’s mother but die doing it.
briefly describe the battle between beowulf and grendel’s mother. how does he defeat her? to whom does beowulf give credit for his victory? beowulf goes underwater to grendel’s mother. at which grendel’s mother leads him to her cave, beowulf’s sword does not work against her and he is forced to use his fists. at some point he finds a sword within her cave and uses it to kill her. and the blade melts leaving only the hilt
what two trophies does beowulf seize from the lair of grendel’s mother? what does he do with them? why do you think he chooses these items? he takes the swords hilt and grendel’s head. he displays grendel’s head in heorot.
how do hrothgar and his men react to the long wait for beowulf to return from fighting grendel’s mother? they start to think that beowulf has died in battle
explain what happens to the sword blade with which beowulf kills grendel’s mother and why do you think this happens? it melts once it goes through her skin. i think this happens because she is a demon like her son and demons are usually associated with hell and fire which would melt metal.
what is engraved on the sword hilt? what do you think this reveals about the 8th century anglo-saxon? it is engraved with runes and pictures that tell a story
identify two ways heremod contrasts with beowulf. why do you think hrothgar tells beowulf tale? he contrasts beowulf to sigemund, a warrior who killed a dragon and took his treasures
what advice does heremod contrasts with beowulf. why do you think hrothgar tells beowulf this tale? he said a king should be peaceful not arrogant, and to always be ready for battle
prediction: what awaits the geats when they return home? beowulf is waiting for them, to surprise them that he’s alive
why has beowulf decided to fight the dragon alone? he wants fame and glory to prove he’s still honorable in his old age
how will this fight be different than the fight with grendel? in the battle with grendel he fights him to provide service to hrothgar. in the battle with the dragon he’s doing it for selfish reasons
what lines/events during the fight foreshadow beowulf’s defeat at the hands of the dragon? line 2311: the termination of the dragon raids will be “hard for their ring-giving lord”
who comes to beowulf’s aid? why? wiglaf because he is related by blood to beowulf, pledged his loyalty as a warrior, and he wants to be famous
when he realizes that he is dying, what does beowulf ask wiglaf to do? he asks him to bring him some of the dragon’s treasure
what is beowulf’s final request? why does he ask this? he wants to see the dragons jewels before he dies
who is beowulf? The protagonist of the epic, Beowulf is a Geatish hero who fights the monster Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a fire-breathing dragon. Beowulf’s boasts and encounters reveal him to be the strongest, ablest warrior around. In his youth, he personifies all of the best values of the heroic culture. In his old age, he proves a wise and effective ruler.
who is King Hrothgar? The king of the Danes. Hrothgar enjoys military success and prosperity until Grendel terrorizes his realm. A wise and aged ruler, Hrothgar represents a different kind of leadership from that exhibited by the youthful warrior Beowulf. He is a father figure to Beowulf and a model for the kind of king that Beowulf becomes.
Who is Grendel? A demon descended from Cain, Grendel preys on Hrothgar’s warriors in the king’s mead-hall, Heorot. Because his ruthless and miserable existence is part of the retribution exacted by God for Cain’s murder of Abel, Grendel fits solidly within the ethos of vengeance that governs the world of the poem.
Who is Grendel’s mother? An unnamed swamp-hag, Grendel’s mother seems to possess fewer human qualities than Grendel, although her terrorization of Heorot is explained by her desire for vengeance—a human motivation.
who is the dragon? An ancient, powerful serpent, the dragon guards a horde of treasure in a hidden mound. Beowulf’s fight with the dragon constitutes the third and final part of the epic.
who is Shield Sheafson? The legendary Danish king from whom Hrothgar is descended, Shield Sheafson is the mythical founder who inaugurates a long line of Danish rulers and embodies the Danish tribe’s highest values of heroism and leadership. The poem opens with a brief account of his rise from orphan to warrior-king, concluding, “That was one good king” (11).
Who is Beow? The second king listed in the genealogy of Danish rulers with which the poem begins. Beow is the son of Shield Sheafson and father of Halfdane. The narrator presents Beow as a gift from God to a people in need of a leader. He exemplifies the maxim, “Behavior that’s admired / is the path to power among people everywhere” (24-25).
Who is Halfdane? The father of Hrothgar, Heorogar, Halga, and an unnamed daughter who married a king of the Swedes, Halfdane succeeded Beow as ruler of the Danes.
who is wealhtheow? Hrothgar’s wife, the gracious queen of the Danes.
who is unferth? A Danish warrior who is jealous of Beowulf, Unferth is unable or unwilling to fight Grendel, thus proving himself inferior to Beowulf.
who is hrethic? Hrothgar’s elder son, Hrethric stands to inherit the Danish throne, but Hrethric’s older cousin Hrothulf will prevent him from doing so. Beowulf offers to support the youngster’s prospect of becoming king by hosting him in Geatland and giving him guidance.
who is hrothmund? The second son of Hrothgar.
who is hrothulf? Hrothgar’s nephew, Hrothulf betrays and usurps his cousin, Hrethic, the rightful heir to the Danish throne. Hrothulf’s treachery contrasts with Beowulf’s loyalty to Hygelac in helping his son to the throne.
who is aescher? Hrothgar’s trusted adviser.
who is hygelac? Beowulf’s uncle, king of the Geats, and husband of Hygd. Hygelac heartily welcomes Beowulf back from Denmark.
who is hygd? Hygelac’s wife, the young, beautiful, and intelligent queen of the Geats. Hygd is contrasted with Queen Modthryth.
who is wiglaf? A young kinsman and retainer of Beowulf who helps him in the fight against the dragon while all of the other warriors run away. Wiglaf adheres to the heroic code better than Beowulf’s other retainers, thereby proving himself a suitable successor to Beowulf.
who swam with beowulf? brecca
who is ecgtheow? Beowulf’s father, Hygelac’s brother-in-law, and Hrothgar’s friend. Ecgtheow is dead by the time the story begins, but he lives on through the noble reputation that he made for himself during his life and in his dutiful son’s remembrances.
who is sigemund? A figure from Norse mythology, famous for slaying a dragon. Sigemund’s story is told in praise of Beowulf and foreshadows Beowulf’s encounter with the dragon.
who is king heremod? An evil king of legend. The scop, or bard, at Heorot discusses King Heremod as a figure who contrasts greatly with Beowulf.

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