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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1127

These are topics on which you can write a substantial analytical paper. They are designed to test your understanding of major themes and details from the work as a whole. Following the topics are outlines you can use as a starting point for writing an analytical paper.

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  • Topic #1
    Beowulf, in his quest for glory, is reminiscent of a specific group of modern young executives who place their careers above all other aspects of their lives. How can this be validated from the poem?

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: In his single-minded quest for glory, Beowulf is reminiscent of a specific group of modern young executives in that they place their careers above all other aspects of their lives as he placed the quest for glory above all other aspects of his life.

    II. Quest for glory
    A. Slaying Grendel
    B. Slaying Grendel’s mother
    C. Slaying the dragon

    III. Solitary life
    A. Lack of wife
    B. Lack of children
    C. Lack of close friends

    IV. Military life
    A. Travel at lord’s orders
    B. Live with other soldiers
    C. Place lord over self

    V. Comparison with a specific group of modern young executives
    A. Quest for great success quickly
    B. Lack of social life or family life
    C. Spend whatever little non-working time is available with co-workers
    D. Place company values above personal values

  • Topic #2
    The poem divides itself into three segments, each dealing with a different battle between Beowulf and a monster or dragon. Compare the three battles.

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: In his quest for glory, Beowulf fights three important battles—two with monsters and one with a dragon. These battles have both similarities and differences.

    II. Battle with Grendel
    A. Hrothgar sends for Beowulf
    B. Grendel attacks Herot, killing Hondshew
    C. Barehanded combat between Beowulf and Grendel
    D. Beowulf kills Grendel by tearing off his claw, arm, and shoulder
    E. Grendel escapes to his lair to die

    III. Battle with Grendel’s mother
    A. She attacks the sleeping Danes in Herot in revenge for the murder of her son
    B. The monster kills Esher, carrying off his body and her son’s body parts
    C. Hrothgar’s soldiers track her for Beowulf
    D. Barehanded battle until Beowulf uses the giants’ magical sword which he finds in the battlehall
    E. Beowulf kills her by slicing into her neck

    IV. Battle with the dragon
    A. Dragon awakened by thief/slave who steals a cup from his treasure
    B. Angry dragon uses his fiery breath to burn down the Geats’ homes
    C. His own people summon Beowulf to slay the dragon
    D. Beowulf realizes he may die killing the dragon but battles him nonetheless
    E. Both Beowulf and the dragon are slain

  • Topic #3
    Most of the poem deals with Beowulf’s quest for glory. How is this detailed throughout the poem?

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: Beowulf attempts to gain glory throughout his life.

    II. Early life
    A. Swimming contest with Brecca
    B. Chasing the giants from the earth
    C. Hunting monsters from the ocean
    D. War victories

    III. Battle with Grendel
    A. Sails from Geatland to Denmark with a small band of soldiers specifically to kill the monster
    B. Vows to fight barehanded
    C. Wants to battle Grendel with only his small group of soldiers and no others
    D. Prefers death to defeat

    IV. Battle with Grendel’s mother
    A. Promises Hrothgar he will kill her
    B. Dons his armor and enters the lake alone
    C. Keeps battling, despite the ineffectiveness of his weapons
    D. Searches for Grendel’s corpse after killing the mother monster

    V. Battle with the dragon
    A. Intends to kill the dragon single-handedly
    B. Uses an iron shield, sword, and armor only because of the dragon’s fiery breath
    C. Braves the heat of the dragon’s fire
    D. Calls the dragon with an angry battlecry
    E. Dismembers the dragon even after incurring a mortal wound

  • Topic #4
    The role of women was vastly different throughout history than it is today. Prove this from the poem.

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: Women’s liberation and equality laws have greatly changed the role of women in society as can be seen through a reading of Beowulf.

    II. Higd
    A. Known as Higlac’s queen
    B. Sent gifts by Welthow, Hrothgar’s queen
    C. Served ale at her husband’s banquets
    D. Beowulf refuses the throne when she offers it to him, instead of her son, after her husband’s death

    III. Welthow
    A. Known as Hrothgar’s queen
    B. Serves mead at her husband’s banquets
    C. Speaks only to praise her lord
    D. Expects Hrothulf to protect her sons upon her husband’s death
    E. Politically naive as demonstrated by her speech at the second feast wherein she claims all is at peace in Hroth-gar’s court

    IV. Finn’s wife (no name given)
    A. Finn attacks her people and kills their king
    B. Her son and brother are killed in the battle
    C. Her husband killed a year later at the end of the unwilling treaty Finn forced upon her people
    D. Gratefully kidnapped by her people upon her husband’s murder

  • Topic #5
    The poem sung during the feast celebrating Beowulf’s initial arrival at Herot is sometimes referred to as an “interior poem”—one which reflects the actual story and purpose of Beowulf. How is this evident?

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: The story of Siegmund, sung by the scop during the feast at Herot, in many ways reflects the actual story and purpose of Beowulf.

    II. Similarities between the story
    A. Both men are examples of heroic characters in pagan tradition
    B. Both men are involved in battle(s)
    C. Both men find treasure
    D. Both men are lauded after their death

    III. The oral tradition in the song of Siegmund
    A. Certain ideas or phrases reiterated for emphasis
    B. Chosen to be appropriate to occasion at which it was recited
    C. Chosen with audience in mind—kings and nobles
    D. Reflects legends, myths, and histories with which audience would be familiar
    E. Reflects interests and values of culture at time it was told

    IV. The oral tradition in Beowulf
    A. Certain ideas or phrases reiterated for emphasis
    B. Chosen to be appropriate to occasion at which it was recited
    C. Chosen with audience in mind
    D. Reflects legends, myths, and histories with which audience would be familiar
    E. Reflects interests and values of culture at time it was told

    V. Siegmund
    A. Heroic character
    B. Kills a dragon
    C. Uses cunning as his main weapon in battle
    D. Finds treasure
    E. Final battle fought alone

    VI. Beowulf
    A. Heroic character
    B. Kills two monsters and a dragon
    C. Uses cunning as main weapon in battles
    D. Finds treasure
    E. Final battle fought alone

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