Beowulf Questions and Answers

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What makes Beowulf an epic poem?

Factors that make Beowulf an epic poem are that it is a book-length poem in verse, focuses on a single hero, includes battles or conflicts, reflects many aspects of its culture, is lofty in language, and features a tragic death.

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According to poets.org, an epic poem is:

a long, often book-length, narrative in verse form that retells the heroic journey of a single person or a group of persons. Elements that typically distinguish epics include superhuman deeds, fabulous adventures, highly stylized language, and a blending of lyrical and dramatic traditions.

Beowulf qualifies as an epic poem on several of these criteria. First, it is book-length, and it is a story that is written in the verse format. It tells the tale of the main character, Beowulf’s, heroic journey to slay the monster and then much later kill the dragon. During the poem, he has several adventures and accomplishes nearly superhuman deeds, as when he kills Grendel.

Grendel is a monster that lives at the bottom of the swamp. One night, Grendel kills some of King Hrothgar’s soldiers while they are asleep. This leads the King’s people to fear Grendel, as the monster terrorizes them over a period of more than a decade. Not surprisingly, King Hrothgar...

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missmerrymack | Student

Beowulf is an epic poem not only for its incredible story, but it is the first documented written work in the English language. The author remains anonymous, as many tales were passed down through the generations orally. This epic tale has withstood the test of time as it is still being taught and analyzed throughout the world. Beowulf contains a legendary hero and nemesis. Monsters, witches, simple townsfolk, and a hero that defies the odds with style, wit and valour that continues to intrigue and inspire students and literary analysts alike. An epic poem has something new to offer the reader each time it is read. The heart of epic poetry offers something human and relatable in each of its characters. No matter how many years pass, the continuity of greatness remains in this classic poem.