Beowulf Summary by BreatheElectric

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                                                Summary of Events


Introduction to Hrothgar's ancestors, from Shield Sheafson

Hrothgar, the generous king of the Danes, builds Hall Herot.

The hellish monster Grendel attacks Herot, killing and eating men.

From the court of King Hygelac in Geatland, Beowulf sails to defend Hrothgar.

Beowulf arrives and explains his mission to the coast guard.

Beowulf is allowed to enter Hall Herot.

Beowulf announces his desire to defeat Grendel.

Hrothgar recognizes Beowulf and tells of Grendel's raids.

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Unferth challenges Beowulf's reputation.

Beowulf tells the story of his swimming match with Breca and defeating sea monsters. He boasts that he will either kill or

Beowulf says he will face Grendel without weapons, and waits for the monster.

Grendel attacks during the night. Beowulf grips him with his hands and won't let go.

Beowulf rips Grendel's arm off. Grendel runs away.

In the morning, the men compare Beowulf with the story of Sigemund and the dragon.
Hrothgar thanks Beowulf and adopts him. Grendel's arm is hung up as a trophy.

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Hrothgar holds a feast and rewards Beowulf with gifts.

A minstrel tells the story of Finn and the Danes.

Queen Wealtheow reminds Hrothgar to remember his own young sons too.

Queen Wealtheow offers Beowulf a gold necklace.

As everyone sleeps, Grendel's Mother comes to Herot for revenge. She carries off Esher, Hrothgar's best friend.

Hrothgar calls for Beowulf and laments the death of Esher. He thinks this was revenge for Grendel.

The warriors follow the trail to a bloody lake with sea dragons and other monsters. Unferth offers Beowulf his sword, nam

Beowulf bids farewell and plunges into the lake. His sword fails and he wrestles with bare hands.

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Beowulf discovers a giant sword and beheads Grendel's Mother. Then he beheads Grendel's corpse. The sword blade melt
awaiting Danes give up and go home, Beowulf emerges with the sword hilt and Grendel's head.

Beowulf describes the successful fight. Hrothgar pledges his friendship, and contrasts Beowulf with the cruel King Heremo

Hrothgar advises Beowulf to avoid pride and respect danger.

Beowulf wants to return home. They fondly bid farewell.

The Geats sail home. At Hygelac's court, the gracious Queen Hygd is contrasted with the story of the selfish Queen Modthr

King Hygelac welcomes Beowulf, who tells about Hrothgar's court.

Beowulf tells about his fight with Grendel.
Beowulf describes the feast and the revenge of Grendel's Mother.

Beowulf presents Hygelac with the rewards he has won. Hygelac gives him a sword and land.

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Fifty years pass. Beowulf becomes king. Then a thief steals from the hoard of a sleeping dragon, and the dragon wants rev

The dragon burns the land. Beowulf recalls earlier feuds with Onela of Sweden before he became king.

Beowulf, who has survived many battles, senses that his own death is near. Death has struck other kings and their heirs.

Beowulf is old now, but resolves to pursue this last fight against the dragon alone. He enters the dragon's den with shield a
fails. His fearful troop runs from the flames.

Only Wiglaf, son of Weohstan, stands by Beowulf. The dragon wounds Beowulf.

Wiglaf and Beowulf each stab the dragon and kill it. Beowulf, however, is dying, and asks Wiglaf to show him some of the
he dies.

Beowulf orders the contruction of his tomb and dies.

Wiglaf criticizes the cowardly soldiers and predicts that the enemy Franks and Frisians will attack the vulnerable Geats.

A poet announces the death of Beowulf, and warns of coming war from the Swedes.

The poet tells how King Hygelac came to power. He calls for a funeral pyre to burn the cursed treasure that has cost Beowu

Wiglaf reflects on Beowulf's fate. He orders the funeral pyre.

After Beowulf's funeral, the Geats build a mound in his honor.

Prologue: 1-   1. Why does Shild become king?
52             2. What do Shild's warriors do when Shild dies?

1: 53-114      1. How is Hrothgar related to Shild?
               2. What is Herot? Why was it built?

2: 115-188     1. What does Grendel do at Herot?
               2. How long does Herot stay deserted?
               3. What does Grendel dare not touch? Why?

3: 189-257     1. Why do Beowulf and the Geats go to Hrothgar?
               2. How does the Danish coaast guard describe Beowulf's arrival as
               different from others?
               3. What does the coast guard ask of Beowulf? Why?

4: 258-319     1. Where is Beowulf from?
               2. Who is Beowulf's king?
               3. What causes the coast guard to believe Beowulf?

Top of page    Chapter summaries

               Why does the Danish warrior make Beowulf and his men wait
5: 320-370
               to speak to Hrothgar?

6: 371-455     How does Hrothgar know Beowulf?

               Even though Hrothgar was not the oldest son, how did he get
7: 456-498
               to be king?

               1. Why doesn't Unferth like Beowulf?
8: 499-558
               2. How does Beowulf defend himself against Unferth?

               1. Beowulf accuses Unferth of what crime?
9: 559-661     2. [line607] What does it mean that Hrothgar is a "ring-giver"?
               3. Why does Hrothgar leave when the sun goes down?

10: 662-709    Why does Beowulf decide not to use his sword to fight Grendel?
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11: 710 -     How does Grendel react when Beowulf grabs him? Why does
790           he react this way?

12: 790-836   What is hung from the rafters of Herot?

13: 837-924   Where has Grendel gone?

14: 925-990   Who does Hrothgar thank first?

15: 991-      What six gifts does Hrothgar give to Beowulf?

16: 1050-     How does Hrothgar compensate for the one Geat who died?

17: 1125-     What would you say is the moral of the story of Finn? (Hint: Think
1191          about why they tell this story now, after Grendels' defeat.)

18: 1192-     What does Welthow ask of Beowulf?

Top of page   Chapter summaries

19: 1251-     Who is the monster that wants revenge for Grendel’s death?

20: 1321-     Why does it matter to Hrothgar that the monster has killed Esher?

21: 1383-     How has Unferth’s attitude changed?

22: 1473-     In what way is Beowulf’s battle here similar to his fight with Grendel?

23: 1557-     In the underwater home of Grendel's mother, what two things does
1650          Beowulf find?
24: 1651-     How was Hermod a bad king?

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25: 1740-     Here is some foreshadowing! What does Hrothgar want Beowulf to
1816          reject? What should Beowulf choose instead?

26: 1817-     Before Beowulf returns home, what two things does he promise to
1887          Hrothgar?

27: 1888-     What does Beowulf give to the boat’s watchman?

28: 1963-     Why does Hrothgar plan to give his daughter Freaw in marriage to
2038          Ingeld?

29: 2039-
              What is Beowulf talking about in the second half of this chapter?

30: 2093-     [line 2141] Interpret the meaning when Beowulf says, “My death was
2143          not written.”

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31: 2144-
              How long has Beowulf been king when the dragon awakes?

32: 2221-
              1. Why is the dragon angry?

              2. [lines 2249-2252] Interpret the meaning of "War and terror have
              swept away my people, shut their eyes."

33: 2312-
              (no question)

34: 2391-     [lines 2419-2425] Interpret the meaning of “Beowulf’s heart was
2459          heavy ... Body and soul might part here.”
35: 2460-
              What is Beowulf’s boast?

36: 2604-
              Who is the only one of Beowulf’s comrades that does not run?

37: 2694-
              What kills Beowulf?

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38: 2752-
              What does Wiglaf go to do?

39: 2821-
              Wiglaf accuses the other men of failing in what way?

40: 2892-     According to Wiglaf's messenger, how will things change now that
2945          Beowulf is dead?

41: 2946-     How do Beowulf’s men feel now, after having heard the messenger’s
3057          warning?

42: 3058-
              Why does Wiglaf order the treasures to be destroyed?

43: 3137-     Look back at Hrothgar's advice to Beowulf in chapter 25 [1761-1768].
3182          What would you say is Beowulf's fatal flaw?

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