Beowulf Questions and Answers

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In Beowulf, how does Beowulf find out about Grendel?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Beowulf learns about Grendel through word of mouth, as news reports of the trials and tribulations facing Hrothgar and his people have traveled abroad. The reader first learns of Grendel and his appetite for death and destruction in the early part of the epic poem, and the shocking descriptions of Grendel's violence are full of powerfully gruesome details and bloody scenes; the reader can easily imagine the terrifying news traveling quickly through the land as other communities learn of the threat of Grendel and perhaps attempt to prepare themselves for similar tragedy should a creature of Grendel's power appear in their own midst. Beowulf responds to the news not with understandable fear, but with determination; he immediately sees an opportunity to be a hero and travels across the seas to confront the evil force of Grendel himself.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The answer to this question can be found after the first narration of Grendel's attacking the mead hall of Hrothgar and the chaos he thus causes, which of course oppresses Hrothgar and his people and makes them fear that they will never be able to be free of Grendel's tyranny and grip of fear over their lives. We are told, however, that news of this situation is brought to King Hygelac of the Geats by Danish sailors:

This heard in his home Hygelac's thane, 
great among Geats, of Grendel's doings.

It is Hygelac's nephew, Beowulf, who chooses to respond to the implicit challenge of such news by going to Hrothgar's aid with some loyal men and challenging Grendel. Beowulf has already made himself famous for monster-killing and for his impressive feats of strength, and so obviously relishes the chance to test his skill and gain fame by slaying Grendel.

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