1. Why is Hrothgar’s lineage given?
2. Why is Grendel’s lineage given?
3. What is Herot?
4. Why did Hrothgar build Herot?
5. Why did Herot lay empty for 12 years?
6. Why did Grendel attack Herot?
7. Why hasn’t Hrothgar rid Herot of Grendel?
8. Why does Beowulf come to Denmark?
9. Why does the sentry personally lead Beowulf and his men to Herot after hearing their reason for coming to Denmark?
10. Why does Wulfgar, the herald, urge Hrothgar to see Beowulf?
1. Hrothgar’s lineage is given to establish that he is a king. It also serves to ready the audience for the kind of poem it enjoys—one dealing with royalty, myths, or history.
2. Grendel’s lineage is given because the audience of the poem belongs to a culture shifting from paganism to Christianity. While the monster is a pagan symbol, he is descended from Cain—a fallen Biblical character—and lives “down in the darkness,” a metaphor for Hell. He is a bridge between paganism and Christianity and also holds out the promise of a battle between good and evil in the poem.
3. Herot is the sumptuously-built meadhall ordered by the Danish king, Hrothgar. It is a beautiful, huge, towering place with hammered gold gables.
4. Hrothgar ordered Herot built as a meadhall for his brave...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
1. How does Hrothgar know of Beowulf?
2. What information does Beowulf’s greeting to Hrothgar include?
3. What are the activities at the feast?
4. How does Unferth taunt Beowulf?
5. What is Beowulf’s response to Unferth’s taunts?
6. How does Welthow react to Beowulf?
7. Why does Beowulf meet Grendel bare-handed?
8. How may Grendel’s attack be described?
9. Why are the Geats’ weapons useless when they rush to Beo-wulf’s aid?
10. What is done with the prize of the battle?
1. Years prior to Grendel’s attacks, Beowulf’s father, Edgetho, came to Hrothgar for help. Edgetho had started a feud by killing a Wulfing warrior, Hathlaf; the conflict threatened to become a war between the Wulfings and the Geats. Edgetho’s own people refused him until the feud was settled. The newly crowned, young Danish king Hrothgar was able to end the feud by sending treasure to the Wulfings, and by convincing Edgetho to swear he would keep the peace, thereby averting war. Beowulf was a young child at this time.
2. Beowulf’s greeting to Hrothgar includes the following information: Higlac is his lord and relation; he (Beowulf) is a soldier of some renown (he elucidates his fame with several anecdotes); he wants to kill Grendel with only his bare hands and possibly the help of his soldiers, exclusively; and he explains what should be done with his possessions should he be killed by Grendel.
3. At the feast, the Danes surrender their seats to the Geats and serve them mead (a drink made of...
(The entire section is 690 words.)
1. Why do the crowds come to Herot?
2. What is the song of Siegmund?
3. Who is Hermod?
4. How does Hrothgar express his gratitude to Beowulf?
5. How does Beowulf describe the battle with Grendel when speaking to Hrothgar?
6. What is the song of Finn?
7. What is it Welthow tells Hrothgar when the songs are finished?
8. What does she say to Beowulf?
9. What is to happen to Herot once this feast is over?
10. What are the soldiers’ sleeping arrangements?
1. The crowds come to Herot in order to trace Grendel’s path from Herot to the edge of the lake in which he had his den. The water is still bloody and swirling, which delights the crowds since this confirms his death.
2. The song of Siegmund is about another dragon slayer who earns glory by single-handedly pinning a dragon to the wall of its own lair. The dragon dissolves in its own blood and Siegmund is rewarded with treasures and fame.
3. Hermod, as we are told in lines 899–911, is born a king, but “pride and defeat and betrayal” are his lot after he continuously ignores his people’s wishes and wise men’s warnings. He rules by his own vanity, which leads to misery for all and, ultimately, his death.
4. Hrothgar commands that Herot be cleansed and another feast be held, at which...
(The entire section is 579 words.)
1. What happens the first night the Danes return to sleep in Herot?
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...
(The entire section is 561 words.)
1. What is the sign of victory Beowulf gives to Hrothgar?
2. How does Beowulf feel his life was saved?
3. What does Hrothgar do when Beowulf gives him the sword hilt?
4. What happened to the magical giants who made the sword?
5. What is the story of Hermod?
6. What, specifically, is Hrothgar warning Beowulf about in telling this story?
7. What is the occasion for Unferth’s visit?
8. What promises does Beowulf make as he takes his leave of Hrothgar?
9. Hrothgar says he is pleased with Beowulf for what reasons?
10. Why does Hrothgar weep?
1. The sign of victory that Beowulf gives to Hrothgar is Grendel’s head. When he won the earlier battle with Grendel, the monster was able to escape, minus his claw, arm, and shoulder, to die in his lair. At that time, Beowulf apologized to Hrothgar for not being able to bring him the monster’s body. After slaying Grendel’s mother, he finds the body in the lair that the mother and son shared and beheads it, bringing this prize to the Danish king.
2. Beowulf explains that God showed him the giants’ magical sword which he used to slay Grendel’s mother after Hrunting proved to be ineffective. (Remember, this is an English poem about the Danes and Geats written at the time when Christianity was first gaining acceptance.)...
(The entire section is 574 words.)
1. What does Beowulf give the boat watcher?
2. How are the Geats greeted once they arrive home?
3. What is the story of Thrith?
4. Why didn’t Higlac initially allow Beowulf to go to Hrothgar’s aid when they first heard of the monsters threatening Herot?
5. What is Beowulf’s opinion of Hrothgar’s plan concerning Ingeld and Freaw?
6. What is the heritage of the gifts Beowulf gives Higlac from Hrothgar?
7. What gift does Higlac bestow upon Beowulf?
8. At what point in the family lineage does Beowulf agree to assume the throne of Geatland?
9. How long does Beowulf rule peacefully?
(The entire section is 556 words.)
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...
(The entire section is 459 words.)
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?
(The entire section is 574 words.)
1. What does Wiglaf vainly attempt to tell Beowulf before he seeks the dragon?
2. According to Wiglaf, what are Beowulf’s post-mortem instructions?
3. Who is to bring wood for Beowulf’s funeral?
4. Why does Wiglaf bring the seven noblest Geats to the dragon’s treasure?
5. What is done with the dragon’s corpse?
6. How may the Geatish king’s funeral pyre be described?
7. What do the Geats do as the fire is burning?
8. How long does it take to build the tomb Beowulf has asked for?
9. Why do 12 of the bravest Geats ride around the tower?
10. In the closing lines of the poem, how...
(The entire section is 385 words.)