Beowulf—Study Guide Section 1 (Lines 1-1060) Due: Monday, May 9, 2011
1. Who is the Danish king that proved his worth in battle and is referred to as the “scourge of many
2. Beow was considered a “prudent prince” of the Danes, what was Beow’s motivation for “giving
freely while his father lived?”
3. Name 2-3 items that were placed in the ship with Shield Sheafson for his funeral? In class I
mentioned why the Danes loaded his ship with such items, what was the reasoning behind such
4. Beow’s son is named Halfdane, list the four descendants of Halfdane and identify which one of the
four was favored in the “fortunes of war.”
5. What was Heorot and what was its purpose in Denmark? (Name at least three uses).
6. Provide a brief description of Grendel.
7. In literature, symbols are objects, characters, or actions that have meaning on their own, but also
have meaning beyond their own definition. What might Grendel symbolize in this story? Use full
sentences and examples from the text to support your response.
8. After several attacks by Grendel, King Hrothgar closed the doors of Heorot and no one entered for
how many “winters” or “seasons of woe?”
9. How did Beowulf find out about King Hrothgar’s troubles?
10. What is the name of Beowulf’s father?
11. On page 15 we read the first description of Beowulf. What are some of the phrases that are used
in the text to describe him?
12. Where is Beowulf from?
13. Beowulf announces his plan to aid King Hrothgar and no one in the kingdom tries to stop him.
Who and what does he bring with him on his ship?
14. What kind of greeting from the watchman do Beowulf and his ship receive when they arrive safely
on Danish shores? Why did the watchman respond the way he did? Use the text to support your
15. After Beowulf introduces himself and explains his mission in Denmark, what does the watchman
16. In lines 301-311 there is a description of Heorot, use examples from the text to describe what it
17. Who is Wulfgar and what is his role between the lines of 331-370?
18. When King Hrothgar first hears news that Beowulf has landed on the shores of Denmark what is
19. When Beowulf boasts the intentions of his mission to King Hrothgar in Heorot he vows to fight
Grendel. What is the unusual claim that he makes concerning the way he will fight Grendel?
20. What is the history between Beowulf’s family and Hrothgar’s family? (See lines 459-472).
21. Compare and contrast the two versions of the story Unferth and Beowulf tell regarding a
swimming match from Beowulf’s past between Breca and Beowulf.
22. What scathing words does Beowulf have for Unferth following his re-telling of the story?
23. Make in inference and express why might Unferth feel compelled to speak up against Beowulf in
24. Who is Wealhtheow?
25. Following Beowulf’s official boast, what words of advice does Hrothgar give Beowulf before he
retires for the evening?
26. Recall the battle between Beowulf and Grendel with 4-6 full-length sentences. (Lines 749-836).
27. What is ironic about Beowulf’s decision to fight without use of weapons?
28. How is the tale of Sigemund parallel with Beowulf?
29. What does Hrothgar promise Beowulf after finding out about the death of Grendel?
30. What physical items does Beowulf bring to Hrothgar as gifts?
Be prepared to discuss this essay-style question on Monday:
Some readers view Beowulf as a boastful glory seeker. Other readers view Beowulf as a
noble, selfless hero. What do you think? (Use examples from the text to support your
Beowulf—Study Guide Section 2 (Lines 1160-1905) Due: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
1. What kinds of gifts did Beowulf receive from King Hrothgar following the death of Grendel?
2. Who is the “monstrous hell-bride” that seeks revenge and lurks in the night?
3. Where in Denmark did the “grief-racked and ravenous” character attack first?
4. The author uses figurative language, (a metaphor) to describe the “onslaught” of the avenger.
Describe the two things that are being compared in the metaphor on pg. 91.
5. Why was Hrothgar particularly sad about the attack?
6. Describe the mere where Grendel and his mother were said that have resided and the kinds of
creatures who lived there with them.
7. What does Beowulf say is “a warrior’s only bulwark” after he has died and is gone?
8. King Hrothgar laments the death of his friend, but Beowulf rebukes him. Recall the argument
Beowulf made to Hrothgar to get him to change his attitude.
9. What was unique about the weapon originally Beowulf used to fight Grendel’s mother? Did it
help him? Explain.
10. How is Beowulf’s speech before fighting Grendel’s mother different from his speech prior to
11. What reasons does the poet give for why Beowulf escaped the fight with his life?
12. How exactly does Beowulf kill Grendel’s mother?
13. By the “ninth hour of the day,’ what do the Danes and Geats believe happened to Beowulf?
14. In the midst of an abundance of valuable treasures in the mere, what does Beowulf bring back
as his prize from the fight?
15. Contrast Beowulf’s speech following his fight with Grendel’s mother with his speech following
his fight with Grendel.
16. What titles of praise does Hrothgar lay upon Beowulf following his fight with Grendel’s
17. According to Hrothgar, who was Heremod and how is Beowulf different than him?
18. In line 1758, Hrothgar warns Beowulf to “beware of that trap.” What is the trap he speaks of?
19. Upon leaving what does Beowulf promise Hrothgar?
20. How was the Danish guardian of Beowulf’s ship rewarded?
Beowulf—Study Guide Section 3 (Lines 1906-3075) Due: Monday, May 16, 2011
1. Where does Beowulf go after departing from Hrothgar and the Danes?
2. How does the poet describe King Hygelac’s home?
3. Who is Hygelac’s Queen? Contrast her with the old Queen Modthryth—how are they
4. On line 202 the poem said, “Nobody tried to keep him (Beowulf) from going (to
Denmark).” How could this line be refuted after reading lines 1987-1998?
5. During the telling of his heroic tale Beowulf digresses to explain a family feud going on
between the Danes and the Heathobards. Describe the history behind the tension and why
Beowulf fears for the Danes in the future.
6. Review lines 2177-2189 and what Beowulf’s reputation was Geatland before traveling to
assist the Danes and what is became after he returned.
7. Beowulf eventually became king of the Geats. How many years did he rule before having
his kingdom threatened by a dragon?
8. Explain the chain of events that motivated the dragon to wreak havoc on the Geats.
9. When Beowulf hears news of the “brutal assaults” from the dragon, he decides to fight
the dragon himself. What is his initial reasoning for making this decision?
10. Beowulf did not immediately assume the throne when Hygelac died, even though many
wanted him to. Who did he defer the throne to, what was his reasoning, and what does this
decision reveal about Beowulf’s character?
11. Before his fight with Grendel, Beowulf was confident and full of boasts. Before his fight
with Grendel’s mother he showed more humility and gave his men instructions for what to
do if he did not return from the battle. What is his disposition prior to his battle with the
12. In 3-5 sentences, paraphrase the main points of Beowulf’s final “boast” between the lines of
13. Wiglaf decides to come to Beowulf’s aid when the battle is clearly not favoring the ruler of
the Geats. What “wise and fluent words” does young Wiglaf say to the other “companions”
of Beowulf who are in the process of fleeing the violent scene?
14. Who draws first blood in the battle? How is the blood drawn?
15. Beowulf kills the dragon, but realizes he is on the brink of death himself. In a lament to
Wiglaf, what does he say is one of his largest regrets?
16. What was Beowulf’s dying order to Wiglaf? What did Beowulf give to Wiglaf in his final
17. Beowulf’s men return to the battle scene and find Wiglaf tending to their fallen warrior
king. Summarize how Wiglaf scorns them again with his words.
18. According to the messenger Wiglaf commissioned to speak to the people of Geatland, which
clan do the Geats need to fear? Why?