Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 574
1. How did Wiglaf come to own his armor?
2. Why does Wiglaf go to Beowulf’s aid?
3. How is Beowulf mortally wounded?
4. How do the two men kill the dragon?
5. What is it Beowulf asks of Wiglaf after he is wounded?
6. When Wiglaf returns from fulfilling Beowulf’s request, what further request is made of him by Beowulf?
7. What does Wiglaf say to Beowulf’s followers when they return?
8. What is the message he sends with the herald to the people?
9. What is the Swedes’ argument with the Geats?
10. What is it the warriors see that causes them to weep?
1. Wiglaf’s family had once been Swedes. His father, Wexstan, served under Onela. At that time, Wexstan slew Onela’s nephew after the nephew fled Sweden seeking safety with Herdred in Geatland. When Wexstan presented the nephew’s weapons to Onela, they were returned to him. He, in turn, kept them for his son, Wiglaf, who inherited them upon his death. This battle with the dragon is the first time Wiglaf uses them.
2. Wiglaf goes to Beowulf’s aid because he remembers how well his king had treated his family when they came to Geatland from Sweden. He is also grateful to Beowulf for choosing him as one of his warriors and realizes his king is now an old man—no matter how brave he is—and needs the help of his younger, stronger warriors.
3. As Wiglaf shouts words of encouragement to his lord, the dragon rushes him, breathing fire. When his wooden shield incinerates, Wiglaf jumps behind Beowulf’s iron shield with him. Then the Geat king attacks the dragon with Nagling, which promptly breaks into pieces. The dragon is so enraged that he charges Beowulf, sinking his fangs into his neck and injecting his venom into Beowulf’s body.
4. As the dragon assaults Beowulf, Wiglaf strikes its belly while Beowulf uses his dagger to split the dragon apart.
5. When he realizes he is mortally wounded, Beowulf asks Wiglaf to bring some of the treasure to him to ease his death.
6. Once Wiglaf returns from gathering the treasure, Beowulf asks him to become the leader of the Geats and, after his funeral, to build a high tower on the water’s edge as Beowulf’s tomb, so the sailors may see it and remember their king.
7. Wiglaf castigates Beowulf’s followers as cowards and traitors for fleeing into the woods while their king fought the dragon. He blames them for their lord’s death and says they would be better dead than living in the shame they must now endure for their cowardly behavior.
8. Wiglaf sends the message that both the dragon and their king are dead, and to beware of other countries attempting to start war with them once it is common knowledge the Geats no longer have a leader.
9. The Swedes’ argument with the Geats stems from when their king, Ongentho, slew Hathcyn by waylaying him rather than engaging him in fair battle. He then allowed the Geats to begin looting, only to surround them, capture them, and taunt them the night through, fully intending to kill them the next day. He was prevented from doing so by Higlac’s arrival. Ongentho retreated, but was captured and brought to justice (as the Geats saw it).
10. The warriors weep after they pass the dragon’s 50-foot corpse when they see their king’s dead body laid out on the sand.
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