Beowulf study guide

question

describe heorot
answer

-Herot is a mead hall that is built by Hrothgar and is supposed to be the tallest building around. It has gold inlay decorations in the wood used to make it. -Hrothgar’s main motivation for building such a building is to have something big in his legacy in his people’s oral tradition and he wishes to live up to the greatness of his ancestors -where everyone met to drink and feast
question

describe Grendel’s lair. how does it compare to heorot?
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damp, dank, dark, cave heorot is a beautiful homey building where people celebrate and Grendel’s lair is the opposite- a dark isolated cave
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what is the significance of Grendel being descended from cain?
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cain=evil, killed his brother; all of his descendants are cursed; Grendel represents a force of evil
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why does Grendel attack heorot? why only at night?
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Grendel is your classic “outcast.” Because of the sins of his forefathers, specifically Cain (who killed his brother Abel), Grendel and other descendents of Cain were banished by God. The beast Grendel lives alone in a dark, cold cave. Night after night he hears the Danes loudly celebrating in Herot and it drives him mad with rage and envy. He slaughters the Danes because of this. So at the root of his attacks are the very human emotions of sadness, isolation and envy. Grendel is actually a pretty sympathetic character, when you get right down to it attacks at night bc it is dark and he is concealed and all the people are drunk
question

what had heorot symbolilzed to the people before the coming of Grendel? after?
answer

before: a place of festivities, sanctuary after: fear and anxiety, not safe
question

why is Hrothgar’s watchman or guard concerned about the arrival of Beowulf and his men? how many men arrive?
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they were armed and from a different place so he was concerned they were there to attack 15 total arrive, 14 total leave
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who is Hygelac? Hrothgar? Halfdane? Beowulf?
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King of Geats; King of Danes; father of Hrothgar; Geat warrior-son of Ecgtheow
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what does Hrothgar tell his officer Wulfgar?
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allow the Geats to come in
question

why does Unferth bring up Beowulf’s swimming match with Brecca? how does Beowulf respond?
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-He’s trying to belittle him and show he’s superior bc this Beowulf guy shows up and takes his glory when he isn’t even from there -Beowulf replies “you’re drunk,” and “If you’re so good why am I here” to prove unferth wrong Beowulf also states he had to fight 9 monsters during that match
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feasting is an important event in the life of the Germanic people. what do the celebrations signify? welcoming Beowulf? after Beowulf defeats Grendel? after Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother?
answer

celebrations of welcoming beowulf, showing honor, celebrations of victory
question

what is Wealtheow’s role in heorot? what does the narrator praise her for?
answer

Wealhtheow is calm, religious, elegant, and welcoming. The narrator praises her for her hospitalityand calm personality
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what is the significance of Hrothgar’s speech in lines 655-661?
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he’s giving Beowulf a lot of honor and respect-more than he’s given anyone
question

what are Beowulf’s thoughts as he waits for Grendel’s arrival?
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While Beowulf awaits Grendel’s arrival at the hall he spoke that he would use no weapons againstGrendel so that they could have an even fight. He then rested until Grendel arrived. Beowulf also asks God for help and guidance when he fights Grendel
question

why does Beowulf wait, allowing Grendel to kill one of the Geats, before he attacks Grendel?
answer

He is watching and waiting for the first move the monster would make he wanted to see how Grendel kills, and form a plan of attack on him before rushing into it himself
question

describe the battle between Beowulf and Grendel
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As Grendel plods through the darkness, heading toward Heorot for his nightly slaughter. He grips the hall door and rips it away. As he enters, his eyes fall upon the warriors sleeping. Little does he know that Beowulf is watching. Grendel reaches for and completely swallows one of the warriors. Next the monster reaches for Beowulf, who is ready for him. Beowulf seizes the vicious claw and holds on to it. Grendel is at first confused, then fearful as he tries to pull away. Still Beowulf hangs on tight. Grendel’s wrenching and bellowing brings the Danes out of their slumber and nearly breaks Heorot. Grendel desperately wants to be free and go home, but Beowulf keeps him in place. All the warriors don’t know how to help. Grendel is in such agony that he finally rips from Beowulf’s grasp and runs away, leaving a bloody trail and his arm behind.
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why can’t the other warriors come to Beowulf’s aid?
answer

Other warriors cannot come to Beowulf’s aid because Beowulf does not let them. Beowulf doesn’tallow them because he wants to have a “one-on-one” fight. Also, their weapons shatter as they touch Grendel. Since no weapons can harm Grendel, Beowulf must fight Grrendel bare-handed and the other warriors cannot help
question

how does Beowulf wound Grendel? be specific
answer

Beowulf tears off Grendel’s hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder
question

what purpose does the comparison between Beowulf and Sigemund serve?
answer

Both were brave warriors that slayed a beast, and the comparison foreshadows Beowulf slaying a dragon
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how does Beowulf respond to Hrothgar’s praise?
answer

Beowulf recalls the fight with Grendel, boasted, reinforces praise
question

how does Hrothgar reward Beowulf? describe the gifts
answer

Hrothgar gives Beowulf an embroidered banner, breast mail, a helmet, a really nice sword, 8 horses with gold bridles, each of Beowulf’s men a bounty in gold
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what does Hrothgar’s generosity say about his character?
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shows that he is a good, generous, and respectful kind who cares about the people who serve him
question

summarize the story of Finn told
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– 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
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why is the story of Finn included just before Wealtheow appears? what do lines 1163-1167 imply will happen?
answer

Hildeburh (Danish Princess) was given to the Drisians from the Danes as a peace offering but they later fought again Wealtheow is also a peace weaver so her life is a similar situation the lines imply that eventually her family will die too
question

describe the scene at heorot as everyone goes to bed
answer

as everyone goes to bed, they are festive and relieved that Grendel is dead and that they have nothing to fear
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why does Grendel’s mother attack heorot? what does she take with her?
answer

Grendel’s mother attacks to avenge Grendel’s death, she kills Aeschere and takes Grendel’s arm and shoulder back
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who is Aeschere?
answer

Hrothgar’s favorite most trusted advisor
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what does Hrothgar ask Beowulf to do in lines 1376-1379?
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kill Grendel’s mother and that he will thank and compensate him if he does so
question

how does Beowulf respond?
answer

Beowulf assures Hrothgar that he will do it and whatever fate has in store for him, that’s what he will follow Tries to cheer up/fusses at Hrothgar by saying that it’s better to act than to indulge in mourning
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describe the lake
answer

dark, grimy, surrounded by mountains and full of monsters
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what does Unferth give Beowulf? why?
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his sword, Hrunting as a sign of respect to Beowulf
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describe the battle between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother
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-Hrunting fails to harm Grendel’s mother -Grendel’s mother wounds Beowulf with a knife -Beowulf finds a powerful sword that is engraved with the story of the beginning of mankind -Beowulf cuts of her head with it -Beowulf cuts of Grendel’s head -sword melts
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how does Beowulf defeat her?
answer

-Beowulf finds a powerful sword that is engraved on the hilt with the beginning of humanity -Beowulf cuts of her head with it
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what does beowulf do before he swims back to land? what do Hrothgar and the other warriors think has happened?
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-he cuts off Grendel’s head and takes the sword hilt back -the other warriors think Beowulf died bc they saw blood in the water
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to what does Beowulf attribute his victory? why?
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-God -believes that without God he wouldn’t have won, God gave him to sword to kill Grendel’s mother
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what does Beowulf present to Hrothgar?
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-presents the sword hilt to Hrothgar and the booty from the lake and Grendel’s head
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what does Hrothgar warn Beowulf about in his speech?
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-the dangers of power and not to let it get to his head -to be mindful of fragility of life -no life is immune to danger
question

describe Beowulf’s departure
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-Beowulf’s men were eager to leave -mutual appreciation speeches -gifts were given, many embraces -bitter sweet party bc Hrothgar knew it was the last time he’d see Beowulf -Hrothgar gave them 12 treasures to sail out with
question

compare and contrast Hygd and Modthryth
answer

Both are queens and are exactly the opposite of each other -Hygd is queen of the Geats and has gentle and reasonable behavior -Modthryth is queen of the Hemmings and is wicked and punishes/kills anyone who looked her in the face
question

What social roles do women appear to have in the world of Beowulf? what does Beowulf think about this (lines 2028-2030)?
answer

-women were used to create peace and heal old wounds between tribes -Beowulf thinks that it will not last
question

what is Hrethel’s story concerning his sons Herebald and Hathcyn?
answer

-Hathcyn accidentally kills Herebald with a stray arrow and the understood penance is that Hathcyn should be put to death -What happens is that Hathcyn gets disowned and dies later in battle -But it is unknown what happened to Hrethel but a theory is that he was in such a dilemma that he died of a broken heart
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what gifts does Beowulf give Hygelac? Hygd?
answer

hygelac: helmet, shield, 4 horses, chain mail, sword hygd: 3 horses, fancy necklace (torque)
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how is Beowulf rewarded by Hygelac?
answer

land and its security, sword, 7,000 hides, his own mead hall
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how had Beowulf been regarded as a young boy?
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poorly regarded and “weakling” so he had to work up to the reputation he has
question

describe how Beowulf becomes king of the Geats
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hygelac’s successor (heardred) dies
question

describe what happened to those who held the dragon’s treasure
answer

they were killed by the dragon
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how does the dragon react when it notices its cup has been stolen?
answer

the dragon becomes enraged and it destroys everything in its sight
question

what event is foreshadowed in lines 2341-2345?
answer

Beowulf’s death
question

why doesn’t Beowulf fear the dragon?
answer

he knows showing fear will make him look weak and he’s acce-ted it as his fate so he’s going with it
question

why does Beowulf refuse the crown offered him by Hygelac’s widow? when does Beowulf become king?
answer

Hygelac dies and Hygd asks Beowulf to be king of the Geats. However, Beowulf refuses and supports Heardred as being king bc he is the rightful heir, making Beowulf look that much better. Once Heardred dies, Beowulf becomes king
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what does Beowulf’s boast in lines 2511-2515 say about his character? recall Hrothgar’s speech (lines 1709-1768). how well has Beowulf followed Hrothgar’s advice?
answer

it shows he is honorable and that the safety of his people is his priority. he follows the advice pretty well bc Hrothgar says to stay humble and remember that he could die at any time
question

why does Beowulf want to fight the dragon alone?
answer

Beowulf thinks he can fight the dragon by himself despite his age. he is a bit selfish that he wants to fight alone and to give credits to himself only. as an epic hero, he does not want anyone to be in danger but him
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when does Beowulf realize he’s losing the battle with the dragon? what does he do?
answer

Beowulf realizes that he’s losing the battle with the dragon when he felt that he was not as strong as he used to be
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what do Beowulf’s followers do when they realize he’s losing? what does Wiglaf do?
answer

none of them were brave enough to aid Beowulf besides Wiglaf Wiglaf joins Beowulf and stabs the dragon
question

how is the dragon killed?
answer

1) Wiglaf stabs it in the stomach 2) Beowulf pulls out a knife and stabs the dragon again 3) dragon dies after Beowulf’s stab
question

what request does Beowulf make?
answer

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
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how is Beowulf killed?
answer

the dragon bites Beowulf in the neck
question

summarize Beowulf’s last words to Wiglaf
answer

bring him wyrd so death can be realaxing burn him on a pyre Wiglaf has to take care of the Geats
question

what does wiglaf say to the rest of Beowulf’s followers?
answer

Wiglaf rebukes Beowulf’s followers for their cowardice. he tells them how Geats is no longer safe now that Beowulf, ultimate protector of the country, is dead

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