What do Hrothgar and his council do to try to save the Guest Hall in Beowulf?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hrothgar constructs the mead hall as a place of fellowship and entertainment. The place also serves as a symbol of his love and respect for his people. Warriors and their kin celebrate in the mead hall until one night the place is attacked by Grendel. On the first night of Grendel’s attack, the monster takes away thirty men sleeping in Heorot. Grendel does not stop his murderous campaign on the first night, and the monster returns on subsequent nights to torment Hrothgar’s people. Grendel’s torment continues for 12 years.

Hrothgar and his council deliberate on various ways to try and save the mead hall, but none of their efforts yield any results. The bravest soldiers stand no chance against Grendel. The Council sacrificed to their gods and tried to make covenants with hell and the devil, hoping to be saved. The Danes are in despair until Beowulf arrives, offering to help fight the monster.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hrothgar has many warriors sleep there at night to try to guard the  "Great Hall" from being raided again, but this always fails.  Each night, more soldiers are slaughtered and Hrothgar puts more in their places; however, this does not work because those are also killed and the pattern keeps repeating itself. eNotes adds:

Grendel haunts the hall by night for twelve years. The Danes despair of ridding themselves of him. They can neither defeat him nor come to terms with him.

Because they cannot defeat him, they become exasperated.  Beowulf hears of their troubles and decides to come save them from Grendel.