I have to pick a scene from Beowulf and write a descriptive essay using all of the five senses. The teacher said it can be subjective or objective. I am not even sure what that means in relation to...

I have to pick a scene from Beowulf and write a descriptive essay using all of the five senses. The teacher said it can be subjective or objective. I am not even sure what that means in relation to writing a descriptive essay on a scene from Beowulf. I was thinking that I either want to do the scene where Beowulf battles Grendel or the scene where Beowulf battles Grendel's mother. Can you give me an idea of how you would use each of the five senses in describing one of those scenes?

Asked on by suscausey

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I think I have an idea of what your teacher means, but please consult with your teacher on this. I don't want to advise you incorrectly because your teacher is the one giving the grade.

Broadly speaking, "subjective" means that people's own feelings and opinions are taken into consideration. "Objective" means that only the facts are considered.

So, a subjective descriptive essay would be one in which your own impressions of the scene would be part of the essay; you would be able to use the word "I", and your own experiences, and use them to reflect upon the scene. You might also be able to "make up" some of the details that are not provided; taste, for instance, is not something that the author included in the description of the fight with Grendel. On the other hand, an objective essay would use only the material provided in the actual text; you might need to do a bit of research to fill in some of the blanks.

You might use some of these considerations when writing:

Sight: Remember that Heorot has been the sight of dozens of murders. Has Hrothgar cleaned them all up, or is there still evidence? Brown, dried blood splatters, gouges or dents in the walls and wooden beams. The hall has also been more or less abandoned; are the grounds overgrown? Is the paint faded, the banners tattered, the corners filled with cobwebs and rats? Think of the men too; describe their armor and clothing, what's it made of, is it personalized in some way, are they clean? What are their teeth like (many people seem to have a strong reaction to good or bad teeth in a story)?

Sound: Most of these guys are decked out in armor and weapons; it's almost impossible to stay quiet in a bunch of iron and buckles. What do a bunch of nervous guys in an abandoned hall sound like? Nervous breath, the occasional cough, gulp, sneeze, cracking knuckle, and so on. Can they hear Grendel stalking them outside or is it a surprise? One really visceral sound you could work on is the sound of Grendel's arm being pulled off.

Touch: Describe whether their clothes are comfortable, if they're sitting on the floor as they wait, their palms sweating as they grasp the textured hilts of their swords, the feeling of Grendel's skin in Beowulf's hands.

Smell: Considering that it's a bunch of guys fighting a demon in an abandoned hall, I imagine it smells something like a locker room and a graveyard.

Taste: The text doesn't really include taste descriptions, but you could describe the taste of blood, sweat, dirt, or the taste of the meal they just had before settling down in the hall for the night.

Sources:

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