Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 561
1. What happens the first night the Danes return to sleep in Herot?
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2. Why does Grendel’s mother flee from Herot?
3. Why does Hrothgar send for Beowulf?
4. How does Beowulf respond to Hrothgar’s request?
5. Where does Hrothgar lead Beowulf?
6. How may the lake containing Grendel’s mother and her lair be described?
7. Why is Beowulf careful to wear his armor?
8. How does Unferth’s behavior toward Beowulf change now?
9. How does Beowulf attempt to save his life when he realizes his weapons and helmet are ineffective?
10. What are Hrothgar and his soldiers doing while Beowulf battles Grendel’s mother?
1. The first night the Danes sleep in Herot after 12 years of avoiding the hall because of Grendel’s attacks, his mother—seeking revenge for the murder of her son—mounts her own attack.
2. Grendel’s mother flees Herot since she is vastly outnumbered by the Danish soldiers, who are not only using their shields to protect themselves against her attack, but their swords in a counter-attack upon her. She realizes she cannot win this battle and runs for her life, taking Esher and Grendel’s claw with her.
3. Hrothgar sends for Beowulf to ask him to, once again, rid Herot of the monster—in this case, Grendel’s mother.
4. Beowulf tells Hrothgar that revenge is better than mourning forever and that fame after death is to be sought before he vows to kill this monster, too.
5. Hrothgar leads Beowulf through the forest, hills, and cliffs in following Grendel’s mother’s tracks to the bloody, bubbling lake in which she has her lair.
6. The lake containing Grendel’s mother’s lair may be described as horrifying. Not only is the water bloody and bubbling, but it is hot, swirling, and filled with snakes, serpents, and sea beasts. To add to the horror, Esher’s bloody head can be seen on the cliff above the lake.
7. Beowulf is careful to wear his armor because he knows the hammered links of the woven mail will protect his heart from monster claws. He wears the helmet to protect him from sword blows.
8. Upon Beowulf’s arrival at Herot, Unferth drunkenly taunts him with the story of a childhood swimming meet with Brecca, saying it was foolhardy and Beowulf egotistical. Now that Beowulf has killed Grendel barehanded and is on the brink of attempting to kill Grendel’s mother, Unferth has obviously revised his opinion of Beowulf since he lends him his most prized possession—his ancient sword, Hrunting.
9. Even though Beowulf’s weapons and helmet prove ineffective, he is able to save his life by tossing them aside and fighting Grendel’s mother both barehanded and bareheaded. His mail shirt does deflect the blows when Grendel’s mother tries to stab him. There is a magical sword, made by giants, hanging on the wall of the battlehall. Beowulf uses that to slice her at the neck, killing her.
10. While Beowulf battles with Grendel’s mother, Hrothgar and his soldiers are staring into the lake, watching it surge and spurt blood as they talk of the Geat warrior. They agree that Grendel’s mother must be the victor in this battle, but wait anyway. Later in the day, the Danes and their king leave while the Geats remain, awaiting the hopefully triumphant arrival of their leader from the depths of the horrifying lake.