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Beowulf Study Guide - MrsByron - home


									Name: Mrs. Byron
              Anglo-Saxon Literature: BEOWULF

1. Who is Hrothgar? King of the Danes (people of Denmark)

2. What is Herot? A wooden, large mead hall where men of the community go to meet,
celebrate, eat, sleep, etc.

3. Describe Grendel using 4 specific details from the text.
      a) powerful monster
      b) demon, fiend who haunts the moors (marshy wild land)
      c) spawned (given birth) by a pair of monsters descended from Cain
      d) has great claws – tears apart and eats men/drinks their blood

4. What irritates Grendel and becomes his motive for attacking Herot? The men are
happy, enjoy music, live in nature’s beauty, enjoy each other’s company in the mead hall
– all things he can not do/jealous

5. Give a detail of Grendel’s attack. He sneaks up at night, grabs men and smashes
them, runs out with their bodies, takes them to his lair as food.

6. Name a specific ancient ancestor of Grendel. Cain

7. What happens to Herot? (lines 60-62) The mead hall stays empty for years: 12
winters. It is constantly attacked by Grendel who would not agree to any kind of truce or
payoff. Grendel would never touch the king’s throne because it was protected by God.

8. Who is Beowulf? A young warrior from Geatland. He is “strongest of the Geats” and
“greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in the world.”

9. Name the country from which Beowulf comes. Geatland (southern tip of what is now
Sweden – see your maps)

10. Who is Higlac, and how is Beowulf related to him? (lines 109-111) King of the
Geats and Beowulf’s uncle

11. What does Beowulf decide to do? Why? He decides to go help Hrothgar, the king
of the Danes, get rid of the monster Grendel. He chooses the bravest and best of the
Geats – 14 of them, gets a boat and sets sail for the “Danish shore.”
12. Why did Beowulf’s kinsmen urge him to go? (lines 114-119) Because Hrothgar
needed the help and because Beowulf was loved by the Geats. They believed the “omens
were good” and it was Beowulf’s “duty to go”

13. How did Beowulf hear about the wrath of Grendel? (lines 144-145) Sailors brought
the stories of Herot and Grendel’s attacks at night.

14. What are the accomplishments Beowulf states he’s done? (Give two; lines 151-160)
      These are Beowulf’s Boasts:
      a) Drove 5 giants into chains and chased all of that race from the earth

       b) Hunted and killed one by one the monsters of the ocean

15. What request does Beowulf make of Hrothgar? (Be specific) that he alone and with
the help of his men would rid the evil (Grendel) from the mead hall and that he will do so
without a weapon.

16. Why wouldn’t the Danes have to sew shrouds for the Geats if Grendel triumphs?
(SHROUDS are cloth to cover dead bodies before burial)
Grendel will carry their bloody flesh to the moors, crunch their bones, and smear torn
scraps of skin on the walls of his den (lair). In other words, there won’t be anything to

The Battle with Grendel
17. When does Grendel arrive at Herot? That night

18. From where does Grendel come (lines 233-235) out of the marsh from the foot of
misty hills and bogs

19. What surprises Grendel when he comes in contact with Beowulf? 1st: Beowulf was
awake and ready, and 2nd: Beowulf instantly seizes him and bends back his claw to his
arm. Grendel never faced such a strong man – none “whose hands were harder.”

20. Why could the men’s swords not harm Grendel? Grendel had “bewitched all the
men’s weapons, laid spells that blunted every mortal’s blade.” In other words, their
swords had no effect when they struck Grendel.

21. How does Beowulf kill Grendel? He snaps off his arm. Grendel escapes, but he
could only flee to his hole (lair) at the bottom of the marsh to wait for death.

22. What does Beowulf do after Grendel escapes? Why? He hangs Grendel’s claw, arm,
shoulder (all attached) from the rafters of Herot (mead hall). It was the proof of his
victory over Grendel.

23. Give 2 descriptions (short phrases) of Grendel in this section.
Forever joyless, rushed angrily, snarling/fearce, “flooded with fear,” and “writhing
monster” (writhing means moving in pain)

24. List 4 very specific details of Herot found in this section. (lines 290-305)

       a) Hall rang, roof boards swayed

       b) Herot trembled

       c) beautiful walls shaped and fastened with iron

       d) built to withstand all EXCEPT FIRE

Grendel’s Mother
25. Describe Grendel’s lair. (give 3 specific details)
     It is dark and no one knows its depth
     At night the lake burns like a torch
     Deer refuse to flee into its dark waves even to escape certain death by wolves on
       the shore

26. What is Grendel’s mother’s motivation for going to Herot? Be specific.
   She is bound and determined to kill the Danes for the loss of her son

27. After celebrating Beowulf’s victory, what occurs at Herot?
The Danes return to eating and sleeping in Herot because they felt they were now safe.
(Beowulf and his warriors were housed in a different hall then)

28. Name 2 things Grendel’s mother carried back to her lair from Herot.
She took Hrothgar’s (the king of the Danes) best and closest friend (killed him) and she
took Grendel’s arm.

29. What do the Danes entreat Beowulf to do? What would be his reward?
    1). To go to Grendel’s mother’s lair to kill her (and save them)
    2). They would pay him with “gold, heaped up treasure.”

   (He DID NOT get paid anything for killing Grendel b/c Hrothgar once saved
   Beowulf’s father and the Geats from attack; therefore, Beowulf returned the favor by
   killing Grendel “for free.”)

   The Battle with Grendel’s Mother
30. Where does Beowulf find Grendel’s mother? He has to dive for 4 hours to the muddy
bottom of the lake; she finds him, attacks him, and takes him to her “home”; while all this
is happening, other monsters come to see and take part. Her home is a battlehall bright
with light/flame.

31. What protects him from her claws? His mail shirt protects him, BUT his sword called
“Hrunting” cannot hurt Grendel’s mother so it is pretty much worthless.

32. What was Beowulf’s motivation in accomplishing this deed? (lines 485-486)
He longed for FAME.

33. What happens to Beowulf’s helmet? Grendel’s mother bit holes in it which would be
the last time anyone would or could wear it.

34. How does Beowulf kill Grendel’s mother? What was the exact weapon? He sees a
sword hanging on the wall – a massive sword hammered by giants, strong and blessed
with their magic. He takes this sword and is able to kill her although all that remains of
the sword is the hilt (the handle).

35. After Beowulf kills her, what does he do before leaving the lair? He finds Grendel’s
body and cuts his head off.

36. What do the Danes who are observing at the lake do? Why? They think Beowulf has
been killed when they see blood come to the surface so they leave.

37. What do the Geats do? They are faithful and stay because they cannot believe they
will never see him again.

38. What 2 items does Beowulf carry with him back to Herot?
     Giants’ sword hilt
     Grendel’s head

The Last Battle (a dragon attacks because a thief stole from him)

39. What is Beowulf’s future when he returns to Geatland? When Higlac (the king of the
Geats) dies, Beowulf becomes king and rules for 50 years.

40. Beowulf’s last enemy to fight is a fire breathing dragon. Beowulf uses his sword this
time because the dragon is armed with fire.

41. What happens when Beowulf strikes his enemy with his sword? He draws blood, but
the sword cracks and breaks off before it goes deep enough into the dragon to cause any
significant wound.

42. What do Beowulf’s comrades do in this battle? They are faithless and cowards so
they do NOT stand and fight with Beowulf; they run away in fear into the deep forest.
43. Who is his loyal soldier? Wiglaf. He tries to get the others to come with him to fight
with Beowulf, but when they do not, he goes in to help Beowulf.

Death of Beowulf
44. How is the enemy defeated? Beowulf’s sword remnant shatters and the dragon
wounds him in the neck. Wiglaf strikes at the dragon with Beowulf and they succeed in
killing the dragon.

45. What is Beowulf’s request of Wiglaf? He asks him to go find the dragon’s treasure
and to bring him some of its gold, jewel, etc. He can die more easily if he can see the
treasure he can leave to his people.

46. What happens to Beowulf? What is his desire? He dies leaving Wiglaf to rule as
king. After he is burned (cremated), his warriors are to build his tomb high in the form
of a tower by the water’s edge.

47. What is the fate of Wiglaf? Beowulf gives him his golden necklace, his golden
helmet, his rings and mail shirt because Wiglaf will now be king. Wiglaf then attacks
the traitors verbally and tells them they cannot share in the treasure and that they must
face their shame.

Mourning Beowulf
48. What do the Geats do to honor the wishes of Beowulf? They build the tower as
Beowulf instructed at the water’s edge which took 10 days to build. All of the dragon’s
treasure was left by the tower. Then 12 of Beowulf’s bravest Geats rode their horses
around the tower remembering and praising Beowulf.

49. Why does Beowulf want this done? He wants the tower built of seafarers/sailors
could find their way in the darkness, could tell where land was.

50. In your own words, state a THEME which seems to have been presented in the
    reading of this story.
    A job well done, bravery, loyalty, and commitment to good are what are
       meaningful in life
    Fear, shame, greed, and disloyalty create a bad life.


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