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Designed to develop students' reading, writing, thinking, and language skills through exercises and activities, this lesson plan for Beowulf includes 18 lessons and is supported by extra resource material. Through reading Beowulf, students will gain a better understanding of the importance of heroism, courage and camaraderie to the early Anglo-Saxon peoples, and how their views on these traits continue to inform western thinking. Students will also discuss the features of a literary epic and how these features are evident in Beowulf. Examples of guided discussion and study questions from this lesson plan include the following:
- Why does the editor refer to the Beowulf epic as “essentially an aristocratic poem”? Beowulf is concerned mainly with the large issues of kings and kingship. The other classes of society are not represented.
- What were the basic virtues prized by the Anglo-Saxons? Strength, courage, bravery, and generosity were the virtues prized by the Anglo-Saxons.
- Account for the sharp descriptions of the scenes in Beowulf. Beowulf began in the oral tradition—meant to be heard rather than read, therefore the early poet-singers felt compelled to use particularly graphic descriptions of scenes in order for the listeners to visualize the words.
- Describe what transpired in the mead hall to evoke the anger of the monster. The monster dwelling down in the darkness is angered by the music in the hall, by the song of the poet retelling the history of the Danes, and by the sounds of rejoicing.
- What is the role of the twelve horsemen who surround Beowulf’s monument in Beowulf? The twelve Geat horsemen who rode around Beowulf’s monument told of his deeds and of the greatness of his glory so that all would remember the great Geat warrior.
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