Background of Beowulf•Although Beowulf is consideredEnglish literature, it is not set inEngland•Germanic tribes invaded present-day England in the fifth-century AD;they brought their stories with them
Germanic TribesAngles, Saxons, and Jutes
Who is Beowulf?Beowulf is a great warrior who comes to the aid of a groupof people whose lives are in jeopardy. Later in his life, hebecomes king.
Where is Beowulf from?Beowulf is a Geatwarrior who crosses thesea to come to the aid ofthe Danes.Beowulf later returns toSweden to succeed hisuncle as king of theGeats.The Geats are frompresent-day Sweden.
Major Issues of BeowulfAbove is a picture of the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf.
Beowulf: Setting Issues The narrative is set in pre-Christian past. However, England had become Christian by the time it was composed Setting—late 5th to early 6th century (400- 500) AD Composition date—most scholars believe that it was composed sometime between 8th and 10th century (700-900) AD Because of these facts, there are elements of Christianity and paganism in Beowulf
Beowulf: Major IssuesAs we read and discussBeowulf, you should alsoconsider these issues …
Think about … What is the attitude of the poet to Beowulf? Is this poem a monster tale? Based on your reading of Beowulf, what qualities or values did the Anglo- Saxons admire? Is Beowulf a type of
Think about … Symbols and their importance. What do the following items symbolize? Herot Grendel (esp. the claw and the head) the lair of Grendel and his mother the dragon’s hoard
Consider for the following as youread …Epic: a long narrative poem about theadventures of a heroAlliteration: repetition of consonant sounds.Anglo-Saxon poetry consists of two half linesfeaturing alliteration separated by a caesuraCaesura: pause in a line of poetry, usually inthe middle of the line
Critical Terms (cont.)Wyrd: Anglo-Saxon word which refers to a mixture offate and happening in BeowulfWergild: literally, ―man-payment,‖ a term referring to thepayment made to the family of a slain kinsman intendedto prevent them from taking revenge against the slayerDom: refers to the fame which pagan Germanic heroessought to gain for themselves on earth
Critical Terms (cont.)Kenning: a poetic device used by Anglo-Saxonpoets. It is a descriptive expression, oftenmetaphoric, employing compound terms; e.g. ―ring-giver‖ for king, ―heaven’s candle‖ for sun, and―whale-road‖ for sea.Comitatus: a Latin term describing the militarybonds for Anglo-Saxon society. The comitatusconsisted of a lord and his warriors who show fierceloyalty to him. The lord-warrior bonds werecemented by gift-giving.
Before Beowulf was written …it was not only spoken, itwas sung!
The Anglo-Saxon tradition of thescopThe scops (pronounced ―shopes‖) wereboth composers and storytellers whotraveled from court to court and village tovillage. People would gather around tohear the stories recited and chanted andsung. Simply put, the scops wereentertainers.
The following are characteristics ofmost epics: Hero, usually male, is of noble birth; often of legendary importance Hero’s character traits reflect ideals of his society Hero performs courageous and sometimes superhuman deeds Action of the hero often determine the fate of the nation or a group of people
The following arecharacteristics of most epics(cont.): The setting is vast in scope, often involving more than one nation The poet uses formal and serious language Major characters often deliver long speeches
The following are characteristicsof most epics (cont.):Plot complicated by supernatural beings andmay involve a dangerous journey throughforeign landsThe poem reflects timeless values such ascourage and honorThe poem treats universal themes such asgood and evil or life and death
Connect Beowulf to your life…Turn to p. 30 in your textRead the Connect to Your Life paragraphThink of the qualities that make peopleheroes in your life
And now ….Beowulf!
“a powerful monster livingin the darkness” Open your book to p. 33
Grendel Review ll. 1-29 What are the origins of Grendel? What kind of inverse values and ethics does Grendel embody?Anglo-Saxon literary culture, all monstrous beingsdescended from Cain, perhaps reflecting the strongtaboo against kin-slaying so important in Anglo-Saxonlaw and culture.
The Danes Review ll. 15 ff Who is the king of the Danes? What is Herot?
What doesGrendel have for breakfast?
A couple of Danish!
Grendel attacks! Review ll. 30 ff. How many men does he eat? How long does Herot remain deserted? What is Hrothgar’s reaction?
Grendel attacks! Describe what Why does Hrothgar’sReview Grendel council not attack did inll. 89 ff. Hrothgar’ order to s throne? drive away Grendel.
The strongest of the Geats Review ll. 104 ff. Beowulf and thirteen of his bravest warriors cross the sea to aid the Danes Who is Wulfgar?
Beowulf arrives in the land of theDanes Review ll. 141-93 Beowulf boasts! How will he fight Grendel? Who ultimately will decide the winner of the fight between Grendel and Beowulf? Who is Edgetho?
Beowulf arrives in the land of theDanes Review ll. 190 ff. Hrothgar came to Edgetho’s rescue by sending treasures to Edgetho’s enemies, the Wulfings, thus buying peace between the tribes
The BattleBeowulf vs.
Beowulf battles Grendel! See ll. 233-42. How is Grendel described; how is Herot different this time? See ll. 248-57. How is Grendel described? What are his emotions? See ll. 257-59. What will be Grendel’s fate? Review ll. 268 ff. The battle has begun. How are Beowulf and Grendel described?
The battle rages on! Why are the weapons of Beowulf’s men useless? (see ll. 290-300) How does Beowulf mortally wound Grendel? (see ll. 337-340) Grendel goes to die (l. 352)
Grendel’s MotherAnother monster lives, bent onrevenge!
Grendel’s mother wantsrevenge!Hrothgar’ s best friend is killed byGrendel’s mother! (l. 410)
The lair of Grendel’s mother Ll. 397-409— describe Grendel’s mother L. 410-11—Grendel’s mother kills Hrothgar’s best friend Aeschere Ll. 434-39: How do the forest animals react to the lake? Ll. 444-49: Hrothgar’s request
The Battle with Grendel’sMotherBeowulf meets his match!
Battle with Grendel’s Mother L. 455: How long has she ruled the lake where she lives? Ll. 458-69:the struggle b/w Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, inside a battle-hall L. 480: Hrunting Ll. 513-25 Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother Ll. 526-45: Beowulf mutilates Grendel’s body
The Battle with Grendel’sMother Ll. 549-55: the old Dane warriors thought Beowulf was dead Ll. 562 ff.: sword used to decapitate Grendel dissolves; Ll. 578 ff.: Beowulf leaves the treasure at the lair; brings back Grendel’s head to Herot as a trophy
Beowulf’s Last BattleAnd the death of Beowulf
Beowulfs Last Battle Ll. 606-11: Beowulf is still boasting! Ll. 613-32: Beowulf describes how he will fight the dragon Ll. 665-70: Beowulf in a fight for his life! Ll. 691-96: Beowulf’s followers flee Ll. 708-35: Wiglaf scolds the fleeing warriors
The Death of a HeroBut the legend lives on!
The Death of Beowulf Beowulf Ll. 741-42: Does Beowulf have an strikes at heir?the dragon again! L. 745: How long was Beowulf Beowulf king?is mortally wounded Ll. 753: a reference to Anglo- in the Saxon views about kin-slaying neck. Ll. 754-61: What does Beowulf Wiglaf ask of Wiglaf?strikes the dragon Ll. 764-94: Wiglaf enters the and it is finally dragon’s tower where all its killed. treasures were stored
The Dragon’s Treasure Ll. 764-94 Why is this scene important? The Dragon hoards all the treasure which goes against the idea of comitatus. Now that the dragon is dead, all the treasures can be shared
Death comes for Beowulf l. 801: Do you think Wiglaf is a Christian? ll. 805-19; 824-27: Beowulf’s dying words l. 811: Wiglaf will be the next king ll. 812-19:
Christian elements inBeowulf Review the death of Beowulf scene and find elements of Christianity. Share with the class!
Wiglaf to the Beowulf’s men … L. 849: Wiglaf calls Beowulf’s men who ran Lead ―cowards‖your life Ll. 851-62: Wiglaf tells the―brande men who ran that they have dishonored and disgraced d with the entire communitydisgrace L. 865: Beowulf’s men weep !‖ as they see his body resting on the sand
Mourning Beowulf• ll. 874-75: Beowulf’s ashes are placed in the tomb• Ll. 880-83: All the treasures that were gained from the dragon’s lair were buried in the sand• Ll. 885 ff.: Twelve of the greatest Geats rode and told of Beowulf’s greatness , said no better king had ever lived, no other man deserved as much praise
BeowulfLiterary Devices Activity
Find these examples inBeowulf Alliteration Kenning Caesura Hyperbole
Literary devices definedAlliteration – the repetition of consonant sounds atthe beginning of a word.Kenning – metaphorical compound words orphrases substituted for simple nouns.Caesura– a pause or break in a line of poetry.Hyperbole – a figure of speech in which the truth isexaggerated for effect.