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Beowulf Study Guide - DOC - DOC


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									Essential Question: What Makes a True Hero
           Beowulf Reading/Reader’s Journal Guide
Reading Assignment: Pages 3 to 10
 The Earlier History of the Danes: Scyld Scefing (pronounced Shilled Shafing) is the ancestral leader of
    the Danes. Referring to the details given, what do you feel you know about the man through praise of
    his heroism and his burial?
Chapter 1:
 Referring to the details given in the opening lines, trace (in your own words) Hrothgar’s                     Page | 1
    distinguished heritage as king of the Danes?
 Although Hrothgar has a long history as a successful king, has built the great mead hall Heorot, and
    has given his warriors treasures, he is experiencing a time of trouble. Using the details given, evaluate
    (specifically, and with reference to the text) the reasons why Grendel, the monster, is filled with
 List any kennings you found in the reading assignment. Separately list any symbols, images, or other
    figures of speech you noted.?
Chapter 2:
 Why does Grendel come to the mead hall only at night? What does he do at the mead hall? What effect
    do these attacks have on the unity of Hrothgar and his men? Why is Hrothgar’s life safe from Grendel?
 This chapter ends with a long Christian reference. Paraphrasing specific details from pages 9 and 10,
    what does the scop tell the listener?

Reading Assignment: Pages 11-23
Chapter 3:
 Why does Beowulf decide to go to Denmark? Using the details given, what is Beowulf’s background,
   and how do we know that he is heroic?
 Describe Beowulf’s journey from the land of the Geats to Hrothgar’s kingdom.
 At the coast the Scyldings or Danes have stationed a guard. What does he do the moment he sees
   Beowulf and his men arriving? What is the guard’s impression of the strangers? What questions does
   he ask them? What image does this scene create of life at this period in history.

Chapter 4:
 How does Beowulf identify himself? What does he propose to do? Why does he wish to come to a
   foreign country to risk his life in conflict?
 Using the details given, why does the guard trust Beowulf and does the guard do to signify his attitude
   toward Beowulf and his men?
 This chapter, in particular, makes use of images of brightness. List as many as you can find.

Chapter 5:
 Identify Wulfgar. What report of Beowulf does he give to Hrothgar and why?

Chapter 6:
 Explain Beowulf’s relationship to Higlac, and why it is noteworthy.
 In your own words what is Beowulf’s boast. Be specific. You may bullet the details of his boast.
 How does the concept of wyrd enter into the end of this chapter?
 Continue your catalogue of image patterns.
Essential Question: What Makes a True Hero
           Beowulf Reading/Reader’s Journal Guide
Reading Assignment: Pages 24-73
Chapter 7:
 What is Hrothgar’s response to the news of Beowulf’s arrival? What detail indicates that Beowulf is
   still not completely trusted by Hrothgar? What are the details of Hrothgar’s relationship with
   Beowulf’s father.
 How does the poet show that Hrothgar’s power is in a state of decline?
Chapters 8 and 9:                                                                                            Page | 2
 Describe Unferth. What story does he tell about Beowulf? Why does he tell it? What is Beowulf’s
   version of the story? Explain how this story develops the characteristics of Beowulf as a hero of great
   physical strength and supernatural power. What does Beowulf think of Unferth’s taunt and how does
   he deal with him?
 Using the details given, what do you discern about the appearance, personality, and character of
 What does Hrothgar promise Beowulf if he kills Grendel?

Chapters 10, 11, 12
 As Beowulf prepares for bed to await Grendel’s arrival, he announces his decision to go without his
   sword in his fight with Grendel. Why does he make such a decision? Notice the interweaving of
   Christian references in the description of Beowulf’s going to sleep.
 List the details that emphasize wyrd in these chapters.
 List any figures of speech you see in these chapters, in particular, the ironic understatement.
 In your opinion, why is the final image in Chapter 12 effective?

Chapters 13-18
 After Beowulf’s victory, the Danes sing his praises as a worthy ruler by comparing and contrasting
   him to two rulers from history. Using the details given, compare and contrast Siegmund and Hermod.
 Beowulf’s victory is followed by another ritual feast in the mead hall. Look at Hrothgar’s speech in
   praise of Beowulf. What compliments does he make to Beowulf?
 What important qualities of Beowulf’s character and values are revealed by his response?
 Did you notice an unusual details in the description several warriors at the celebration—ominous ones?
   Search for them and write the quotations down. What do you think they portend?
 Why do you think the poet interrupts the narrative of Beowulf with the scop’s recitation of the history
   of Finn and Hengest? What was the point being made?
 Wealtheow, as the cup-bearer, makes a speech to Beowulf. What anxiety does she have for the future
   of her sons? What does she do to insure Beowulf’s approval? Then she turns her attention to Hrothgar.
   What does she say to him and why (use your intuition)? In what way has Beowulf humiliated
   Hrothgar’s sons and thanes?
 At the end of Chapter 18, what ominous event is foretold (cite key details).

Chapters 19-24
 What protection does Beowulf take into battle against Grendel’s mother? Why does Unferth change his
   approach to Beowulf?
 Before he dives into the hellish lake, what does Beowulf request and from whom?
 Describe the lake (both at the top and deep down).
 Describe Beowulf’s with Grendel’s mother.
 When the Danish onlookers and Beowulf’s Geats think Beowulf has been killed by Grendel’s mother,
   what is their greatest cause of sorrow? (Hint: it has to do with Anglo-Saxon belief).
 Write the quotation that shows the reaction of all in the mead hall when Beowulf returns. What figure
   of speech from Anglo-Saxon tradition is the line?
 What is written on the sword Beowulf gives to Hrothgar?
 What is Hrothgar’s tribute and advice to Beowulf at the end of Chapter 24. Be specific?
Essential Question: What Makes a True Hero
           Beowulf Reading/Reader’s Journal Guide
Reading Assignment: Pages 74-92
Chapter 25
What is the tone of Hrothgar’s advice to Beowulf at the start of chapter 25? How do you support your
How do you interpret Unferth’s last interaction with Beowulf?
Lines 1879 to 1887: Paraphrase them.
Chapters 27-30                                                                                                    Page | 3
Who are Higd and Thrith? Contrast their characters. What happens to Thrith?
Before he tells Higlac about his battles with the monsters, he relates something else that we, as listeners and
readers, did not know before. What is it?
Can you see any thematic relationship between the story of Thrith and the story Beowulf tells Higlac about
Chapter 31
What happens after Higlac dies. Be specific (use bullet points if you wish)

Reading Assignment: Pages 93-112
Chapter 32:
What is the history of the dragon’s hoard of riches? (Be specific)
Chapter 33:
How did Beowulf become king of the Geats? (Be specific)
Chapter 34:
Do you see an example of ironic understatement in this chapter?
What is the tone of this chapter?
What topic occupies Beowulf’s thoughts most in this chapter?
Chapter 35
Detail Beowulf’s final heroic boast.
Describe what happens when Beowulf is defeated by the dragon?
Chapter 36
How did Beowulf’s men betray the heroic code of honor?
What is Beowulf’s final act of heroism?
Chapter 37
As Beowulf looks back on his life, how does he see himself? (Details, please)
On what errand does Beowulf send Wiglaf and why?
Chapter 38:
What is Beowulf’s last request of Wiglaf?

Reading Assignment: Pages 113-128 (the end)
Chapter 39:
What is Wiglaf’s message to Beowulf’s warriors after Beowulf is dead? Specifics!
Chapter 40-41:
When the Geats hear of Beowulf’s death, what danger do they realize lurks now that their protector is
gone? Use specific details and provide some background.
Chapter 42-43:
Recount the details of Beowulf’s funeral.
What happens to the dragon and his hoard of treasure?

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