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Essential Question: What Makes a True Hero Beowulf Reading/Reader’s Journal Guide Reading Assignment: Pages 3 to 10 Prologue: 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 hatred. 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 Welthow? 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 opinion? 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 Denmark? 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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