Beowulf Study Guide (Mrs. Street British Literature)

1. Describe Heorot. Heorot is a mead hall built by Hrothgar, King of the Danes. His subjects conjugate there // like a bar. This is the place Grendel invaded.
2. Describe Grendel’s Lair. How does it compare to Heorot? It is a supernatural lake. It is filled with monsters and is not big compared to Herot which is spacious and beautiful.
3. What is the significance of Grendel being descended from Cain? He is cursed by God and will continue to commit crimes because of his family tree.
4. Why does Grendel attack Heorot? He hears songs and stories about God and worship.
5. What had Heorot symbolized before the coming of Grendel? After? Before it was a place of happiness then afterwards it was a place of defeat and sorrow.
6. Why is Hrothgar’s watchman concerned about the arrival of Beowulf and his men? He wants to receive credit for all he has done not just Beowulf.
7. How does the watchman recognize Beowulf as a hero? Gives Beowulf his sword; offers his trust; offers to have their ship guarded.
8. Why does Unferth bring up Beowulf/s swimming match with Brecca? How does Beowulf respond? Trying to make Beowulf seem like less of a hero adn not get all the credit; Beowulf talks about the monsters he defeated.
9. What is Wealtheow’s role in Heorot? What does the narrator praise her for? Noble woman who knew what was right; wife of Hrothgar; peacemaker; Hrothgar accuses Unferth of murdering his brothers
10. What is the significance of Hrothgar’s speech in lines 655-661? Trusting Beowulf to take care of the mead hall and asking him to make this the best that he can and keep it free of evil and fight with glory from the heart.
11. What are Beowulf’s thoughts as he waits for Grendel’s arrival? He leaves the outcome up to God to decide and he goes to rest.
12. Why does Beowulf wait, allowing Grendel to kill one of the Geats, before he attacks Grendel? He doesn’t want Grendel suspicious and he doesn’t want him to suspect him when he attacks.
13. Describe the battle between Beowulf and Grendel. Grendel raised his claw to attack, but Beowulf put him in an armlock stronger than Beowulf ever felt before, they stumbled through the hall, Beowulf’s thanes defend him, and Beowulf drives Grendel under the fen, his armlock kills Grendel.
14. Why can’t the other warriors come to Beowulf’s aid? There is no weapon on Earth that can defeat Grendel.
15. What purpose does the comparison between Beowulf and Siegmund serve? The comparison between Beowulf and Hermod? Both Sigemund and Beowulf have gained glory by slaying a beast on their own , and were given treasure. King Hemrods power decreased because he was hated, Beowulf’s power will increase because he was loved by everyone.
16. How does Beowulf respond to Hrothgar’s praise in lines 927-955? Beowulf responds by recounting the fights.
17. How does Hrothgar reward Beowulf? By giving him an embroidered banner, a helmet, and a sword.
18. What does Hrothgar’s generosity say about his character? That he is a grateful king that will be loved and respected.
19. Summarize the story of Finn. Hildeburh loses her son and brother on the battlefield, she is extremely distraught, Finn has too few troops, so he offers a truce, divide land between Danes and Frisians, The Danish survivors would be quartered and treated like allies, The Danes become homesick and resentful, spend a winter in exile,The Danes renew the feud and Finn is killed, his widow Hildeburh carried back to Denmark.
20. Why is the story of Finn included just before Wealtheow appears? What do line 1219-1231 imply will happen? Because Welthow warns Hrothgar to give his thrown away to his sons and avoid conflict, because feuds renew quickly and without warning or reason.
21. Describe the scene at Heorot as everyone goes to bed? They are ready to fight and have their armor ready but little do they know that death is on their pillow. This is foreshadowing that these men are going to die in battle.
22. Why does Grendel’s mother attack Heorot? She is grief stricken and desperate with revenge she then kidnaps Esher.
23. Who was Esher? One of the best friends and counselors to Hrothgar.
24. What does Hrothgar ask Beowulf to do in lines 1376-1379? He asks Beowulf to kill Grendel’s mother.
25. How does Beowulf respond? He agrees to it.
26. Describe the lake. It is snake infested filled with poisioness creatures, disgusting, and deadly.
27. What does Unferth give Beowulf? Why? Unferth gave Beowulf an ancient sword called Hrunting to battle Grendel’s mother.
28. Describe the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother. Grendel’s mother catches Beowulf in an armlock, but he is unscathed, Beowulf slashes Grendel’s mother with a sword but she is unaffected, he flings his sword away and fights back with his bare hands,They struggle, and Grendel’s mother grabs Beowulf and points a knife at him, which the chain mail saves him from.
29. How does Beowulf defeat her? Beowulf found a sword and kills her.
30. What does Beowulf do before he swims back to land? What do Hrothgar and the other warriors think has happened? He beheads Grendel, the other warriors presume he is dead.
31. To what does Beowulf attribute his victory? Why? God, for giving him the sword.
32. What two things does Beowulf present to Hrothgar? The gold hilt and Grendel’s head.
33. What does Hrothgar warn Beowulf about in his speech? Curse of the pride.
34. Describe Beowulf’s departure. He leaves with a boat full of treasures, too many treasures to count; horses glory and reassurance from the king
35. Compare and contrast Hygd and Modthryth. Hygd – King Hygelac’s wife, Queen of the GeatsModthryth – An evil queen who unreasonably punishes her peopleThe bard Modthryth as a contrast to Queen Hygd’s better qualities.
36. What social roles do women appear to have in the world of Beowulf? What does Beowulf think about this? Look at lines 2016-2029. Women are meant to serve the men and take care of them in the world of Beowulf.
37. What gifts does Beowulf give Hygelac? Hygd? Hygd – Welthow’s necklace and 3 horsesHygelac – Silvery armor, a gold-carver sword, a banner, the towering helmet, and horses
38. How is Beowulf rewarded by Hygelac? A jeweled sword, 7,000 hides, land, a hall, and a throne of his own.
39. Describe Beowulf’s position at the end of line 2199. Beowulf becomes king of the Geats and rules well for 50 years.
40. Describe how Beowulf becomes king of the Geats. When King Hygelac dies in batte his widow, Hygd, offers him the thrown. But Beowulf refused. He ascended to the thrown only after Hygelac’s son dies.
41. Describe what happened to those who held the dragon’s treasure. The dragon awakens and comes after them. Determined to get his treasure back.
42. How does the dragon react when it notices its cup has been stolen? He goes on a fiery rampage and when he cannot find the thief, burning down houses and destroying villages in his wake.
43. What event is foreshadowed in lines 2341-2344? Beowulf’s death is foreshadowed.
44. Why doesn’t Beowulf fear the dragon? Beowulf doesn’t fear the dragon because he is so proud of himself and believes God is on his side.
45. Why does Beowulf refuse the crown offered him by Hygelac’s widow? When does Beowulf become king? Queen Hygd offered Beowulf the throne after her husband (Hygelac) died, thinking that her young son (Heardred) was unable to protect the kingdom; Beowulf refused but served the young king faithfully. After Heardred’s death, Beowulf did become king and ruled his people well for 50 years.
46. What does Beowulf’s boast in lines 2511-2515 say about his character? Recall Hrothgar’s speech in lines 1700-1768. How well has Beowulf followed Hrothgar’s advice?
47. Why does Beowulf want to fight the dragon alone? He wants to fight alone and give credit to himself only. As an epic hero, he does not want anyone else to be in danger but him
48. When does Beowulf realize he’s losing the battle with the dragon? What does he do? When the dragon’s fire melts his shield he realizes fate is against him for the first time. He continues anyway.
49. What do Beowulf’s followers do when they realize he’s losing? What does Wiglaf do? None of them were brave enough to aid Beowulf besides Wiglaf. He joins Beowulf and stabs the dragon
50. How is the dragon killed? First, Wiglaf stabs it in the stomach. Second, Beowulf pulls out a knife and stabs the dragon again. Finally, the dragon dies after Beowulf’s stab.
51. What request does Beowulf make at the end of his life? He sends Wiglaf to inspect the dragon’s treasure and bring him a portion of it saying that death will be easier if he sees the hoard that he has liberated.
52. How is Beowulf killed? The dragon bites Beowulf in the neck. The dragon’s bite was venomous and Beowulf was poisoned.
53. Summarize Beowulf’s last words to Wiglaf. Bring him wyrd so death can be relaxing, burn him on a pyre, and tells Wiglaf he has to take care of the Geats.
54. What does Wiglaf say to the rest of Beowulf’s followers? Wiglaf rebukes Beowulf’s followers for their cowardice. He tells them how Geats is no longer saf now that Beowulf, ultimate protector of the country, is dead.
55. Why are their ancestors so important to the warriors in Beowulf? Idea of reputation, shaming one’s family is devastating. you must always bring honor to the name.
56. Identify and discuss the Christian influences on the poem. Ex) God is credited with assisting the Danish nation by giving them yet another good king. This very early reference to God makes the important point that everything good comes from God and that all people (and all peoples) depend on God’s favor and mercy.
57. Identify and discuss the Viking/ Scandinavian elements in the poem. Ex) The Anglo-Saxons were a viking culture (they came to the UK). The story of Beowulf is set in Scandinavia, which is also home to viking cultures. Beowulf is a Geat, that was a Viking culture found in Sweden. And the Danes, were also a Viking culture found in the area we call Denmark today (roughly).
58. Discuss the code of loyalty in Beowulf. How is the society structured? What is important to the warriors in Beowulf? What qualities did they feel a good king should possess? What do they consider “courageous”?
59. Identify and discuss the Christian influences on the poem. Ex) That man survives only through the protection of God, that all earthly gifts flow from God, and that the proper bearing of man is to be humble and unselfish.
60. Discuss the role of women in this patriarchal world
61. Is Beowulf a hero? Why/ why not? Beowulf is absolutely a hero, for he meets all of the standards: valor, loyalty, courage, skill, generosity, honor, selflessness, and wisdom.
62. Discuss the role of reputations in Beowulf. Cite examples from the text.
63. Compare and contrast the battles with Grendel and the dragon. Consider the cause of each monster’s attack, Beowulf’s motivation for countering the attack, Beowulf’s battle preparations, and the conclusions of each battle.
64. Discuss the behavior of Beowulf’s men in each of the battles. When the enraged dragon terrorizes the Geats and burns Beowulf’s mead hall, Armed with a new shield, Beowulf takes twelve of his best warriors, including Wiglaf, and finds the dragon. The old king, however, can’t kill the beast himself. The dragon wraps Beowulf in “swirling flames.” Beowulf is a “defeated warrior”. He is abandoned by his warriors, except for Wiglaf. None of his comrades came to him, helped him, his brave and noble followers; they ran for their lives, fleddeep in a wood. And only one of themremained, stood there, miserable, remembering, as a good man must, what kinship should mean. The warriors’ abandoning their dying king shows the Geats’ honor, loyalty, and sense of community are broken; their society cannot and will not endure without them.
65. What attitudes and actions lead to Beowulf’s downfall? Defend your answer with examples. His followers abandon him. he is old & greedy for pride & honor.
66. In preparation for your literary analysis essay, discuss various themes found throughout Beowulf. Make sure you have plenty of textual evidence to support your assertions.
67. And lastly, discuss the value of literature such as Beowulf in the 21st century.

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