Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 459
1. How did the tower come to be the dragon’s lair?
2. Why does the dragon burn down the Geats’ homes?
3. What is Beowulf’s reaction to this?
4. What does he order made for his battle with the dragon?
5. How is Herbald killed?
6. What does Beowulf say in his farewell speech to his followers?
7. How does Beowulf call the dragon?
8. How does the dragon respond to this?
9. Why does Beowulf lose the battle?
10. Where are his followers as he is losing the battle?
1. The last remaining member of an ancient race built the tower before he died to house the treasures of that now extinct race. The dragon, looking for victims, discovered the windowless, doorless tower built on the shore under a cliff and decided to use it for his lair. The dragon had slept there for hundreds of years, undisturbed.
2. A slave, seeking refuge from the master who beat him, stumbles upon the path to the tower. Once inside, he sees the dragon but manages to steal a jeweled cup before fleeing. The dragon, enraged at being awakened and robbed, attempts to track the slave. In his frustration at being unable to do so, he plans to attack at nightfall; the attack consists of burning down the people’s houses and Beowulf’s hall with his fiery breath.
3. Beowulf is guilt-ridden, feeling he has somehow offended God and brought his wrath upon the Geats.
4. Beowulf orders an iron shield fashioned for this battle with the fire-breathing dragon, since wood will only burn and, therefore, afford him almost no protection.
5. Hathcyn shot an arrow while hunting with his brothers but missed his mark and accidentally killed his brother, Herbald. Their father, Hrethel, was devastated by the death of his eldest son and the loss of love he felt for Hathcyn; yet, when he died, Hathcyn and Higlac, the third brother, shared the throne.
6. Beowulf tells his followers he will not fight the dragon barehanded since it is a fire-breather, but he will fight the dragon alone. He says he is the only one capable of defeating the dragon and asks that they wait for him to either win the battle or die.
7. Beowulf calls the dragon by roaring out a battle cry at the entrance to the tower. The battle cry resounds throughout the tower, assaulting the dragon’s ears.
8. The dragon responds angrily, breathing fire and storming toward the entrance eager for battle.
9. Beowulf loses the battle because his iron shield melts, leaving him vulnerable to the fire breath of the dragon, and his sword cracks as he attacks, allowing him to draw blood, but not kill the dragon.
10. All of Beowulf’s followers but one have run away into the forest, fearing for their lives.
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