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Beowulf Study/Discussion questions
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- Who is Grendel?
- Who is Hrothgar?
- What is Herot?
- Compare and contrast Grendel’s dwelling place and Herot.
- Why is Grendel so mad at Hrothgar’s men?
- What is the parentage of Grendel?
- What horrible thing does Grendel do to the sleeping men?
- What does it mean in line 58 when it says “Hate had triumphed”?
- What did Hrothgar and his men talk about in secret sessions? Does it help?
- These men are caught between Paganism and Christianity…give an example from page 41.
- The story travels afar of this beast…who hears it and where is he from?
- Explain Beowulf’s reasons for coming to the aid of Hrothgar.
- Paraphrase lines 189-195 in the box:
- When Beowulf arrives to help Hrothgar, he explains who his people are,where he comes from, etc. You need to jot down here:
- What does Beowulf mean when he says, “Fate will unwind as it must!”?
Part II: The Battle With Grendel
- Explain why Beowulf decides to use no weapons to fight Grendel.
- Why did the Danes’ swords do no damage to Grendel?
- How did Beowulf kill Grendel?
- What does Beowulf hang in Herot to show his defeat of the monster?
- Describe the “Monster’s Lair” (P. 49-50).
- Describe the battle between Grendel’s mother and Beowulf:
- Beowulf has been called the “First Superhero.” Explain why that might be so!
- Describe Beowulf’s use of the sword hammered by the giants.
- Describe the treasures in the monsters’ lair.
- What treasures did Beowulf take with him?
- Explain how you know that Grendel and his mother were HUGE beasts (P.53).
Section 3: The Last Battle
- This part of the story takes place in _____________________ where Beowulf has ruled as the ______________ for fifty years. Now there is a _________________ menacing his people and he must go off to fight it.
- How does this beast resemble Grendel?
- Explain why he thinks he is still the man to deal with such a challenge.
- How is this fight presented as “sustained action”?
- What does line 685 say?
- What happens to Beowulf during this struggle?
- Who is Wiglaf? Why is he important?
- Lines 745-760 show clearly the Anglo-Saxon “warrior code.” Explain it.
- When Wiglaf is speaking to the other men, what does he say they should be ashamed of?
- Who helps Beowulf kill the dragon? How?
- What was the dragon guarding?
- How does Beowulf react to the news that Wiglaf brings him?
- Paraphrase lines 806-812 here:
- List two heroic characteristics of Beowulf.
- Find and give a passage that shows the hero’s more human side.
- Explain how this epic poem is really a portrayal of the battle between good and evil.
- Compare the way this epic commemorates Beowulf with the way our contemporary culture celebrates its heroes.
About this Document
These questions follow the story of Beowulf told in three sections. Students can use these to check for understanding the reading and for good classroom discussion.