Review Beowulf Vocabulary
Examine Beowulf and Grendel
The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic importance, usually the ideal man of his culture. He often has superhuman or divine traits. He has an imposing physical stature and is greater in all ways than the common man.
The setting is vast in scope. It covers great geographical distances, perhaps even visiting the underworld, other worlds, and other times.
The action consists of deeds of valor or superhuman courage (especially in battle).
Supernatural forces interest themselves in the action and intervene at times.
The style of writing is elevated, even ceremonial.
Some argue the poem was composed orally and extemporaneously, and therefore is the archive of tradition on which it draws is oral, pagan, Germanic, heroic, and tribal. On the other hand, one might posit a poem which is composed by a literate scribe, who acquired literacy by way of learning Latin probably a monk and therefore profoundly Christian in outlook.
Extemporaneously: unplanned, naturally occuring
Posit: to suggest, or postulate
. Lines 25 - 27. These lines foreshadow, or hint at, the outcome of the battle between Grendel and Beowulf.Grendel has been attacking Herot successfully for years. What will be different about this visit to Herot?
2. Lines 44 - 56. Higlac follower is Beowulf. He had earlier sworn to kill Grendel with his bare hands. What details in these lines demonstrate Beowulf’s superhuman strength?
3. Lines 76 - 81. The Almighty’s enemy Gods enemy in line 76 refers to Grendel. Earlier in the epic, Grendel’s origin is explained: He is the offspring of one of the descendants of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve who killed his brother, Abel, and became the first murderer. Cain was eternally cursed by God and, according to legend, fathered all the evil beings that plague humankind: monsters, demons, and evil spirits. In what ways is this battle between Grendel and Beowulf really a battle between good and evil? What details in the description of the battle make this clear?
4. Lines 88 - 94.According to these lines, why cant Beowulf’s men harm Grendel?
5. Lines 99 - 108. How does Beowulf defeat Grendel?
How do we learn these things?
Lines 87 - 103
Could not scratch at his skin, for that sin-stained demonHad bewitched all men’s weapons, laid spellsThat blunted every mortal man’s blade.And yet his time had come, his daysWere over, his death near; downTo hell he would go, swept groaning and helplessTo the waiting hands of still worse fiends.Now he discovered—once the afflictor Of men, tormentor of their days—what it meantTo feud with Almighty God: GrendelSaw that his strength was deserting him, his clawsBound fast, Higlac’s brave follower tearing atHis hands.
The monster’s hatred rose higher, But his power had gone. He twisted in pain,And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulderSnapped, muscle and bone splitAnd broke. The battle was over, BeowulfHad been granted new glory: Grendel escaped,But wounded as he was could flee to his den,His miserable hole at the bottom of the marsh,Only to die, to wait for the endOf all his days. And after that bloodyCombat the Danes laughed with delight.He who had come to them from across the sea,Bold and strong-minded, had driven afflictionOff, purged Herot clean. He was happy,Now, with that night’s fierce work; the DanesHad been served as he’d boasted he’d serve them;
Beowulf, A prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel,Ended the grief, the sorrow, the sufferingForced on Hrothgar’s helpless peopleBy a bloodthirsty fiend. No Dane doubtedThe victory, for the proof, hanging highFrom the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’sArm, claw and shoulder and all.