Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 510
Siegmund: the protagonist of a poem sung at the feast to urge “good character” in obtaining glory as opposed to Hermod, who demonstrated “bad character” in the same pursuit
Finn: also sung about in poetry to demonstrate “bad character” since he attacked his wife’s people without warning, killing her son and brother. He then forced his enemies into a peace treaty and was, eventually, murdered by them.
Hermod: a previous Danish king whose character was as poor as his military skill was great
Hrothulf: Hrothgar’s nephew who was raised by Hrothgar and Welthow after his own father died when he was a young boy
The next morning, crowds joyfully arrive to view the scene of the battle and Grendel’s dying path back to his den. Horse races are held and Beowulf’s praises are sung. Hrothgar, upon seeing Grendel’s claw, arm, and shoulder hanging from the rafters of Herot, offers Beowulf any reward he may desire, whereupon Beowulf apologizes for not having Grendel’s corpse to present to the Danish king. Unferth abandons any thought of taunting Beowulf and another feast is ordered by Hrothgar in celebration of the rebirth of Herot, which will once again be the home of the Danish warriors.
At the feast, Beowulf is presented with prizes by the grateful Hrothgar: a golden banner, a helmet, a coat of mail, an ancient sword, and eight horses with golden bridles—one wearing the jeweled saddle shaped like a war-seat which had carried Hrothgar to war. Toasts are offered and the other Geats are also rewarded. Gold is given as compensation for Hondshew’s life. Songs, laughter, and poetry ring in Herot. Welthow joins Beowulf as he sits between her two sons while being given even more gifts—jewels, this time—and tells him of her faith in him. The feast ends and the Danish soldiers prepare for sleep in Herot with their weapons at their heads and hands and their mail shirts on their chests.
Discussion and Analysis
Although the beast, Grendel, is dead, there seems to be an overabundance of joy which rings false. The queen is saying that there are no plots, no whispers in Herot that night and that she has faith in both Hrothgar and Beowulf; but, then again, it seems unnecessary to reaffirm her faith in the king and the savior of her land. Perhaps Welthow is trying too hard to present the image of a united, untroubled people.
At the feast, poetry is sung not only of Siegmund, a positive example, but also of Finn, who was supposed to be quite the opposite. Could this be foreshadowing that all is not well in Denmark? It would be simplistic to assume that any upcoming problem would be in the political area; the foreshadowing seems to deal more with the character one exhibits in his quest for glory, since the protagonist of each poem was involved in just such a quest. Perhaps this is a warning to Beowulf that it is not yet time to rest.
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