Beowulf Intro Pp 1


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Beowulf Intro Pp 1

  1. 1. Beowulf A hero for all times …
  2. 3. What is an epic? <ul><li>A long narrative poem that celebrates the adventures and accomplishments of a hero </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of epics: The Odyssey , The Lion King , Gladiator , and Braveheart </li></ul>
  3. 4. The Basics <ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul>
  4. 5. Who? <ul><li>Who wrote this piece of literature? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This early Anglo-Saxon poem was created around 500 A.D.. At first, it was passed-down and performed from memory by traveling poets. Beowulf wasn’t actually written down, until . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Somewhere between the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., “The Beowulf -Poet” (his identity is unknown) wrote down the poem. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Beowulf -poet, scholars believe, was an English monk (therefore, a Christian) who probably lived in one of the Anglo-Saxon settlements in Western England. That person made changes which reflected Christian values. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Who was it about? <ul><li>Even though the poet, himself, was English (and Christian), the poem is not about Englishmen or (full-fledged) Christians. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the story of several Scandinavian peoples (tribes, really), mainly the Geats and the Danes, but also the Swedes. Beowulf was a Geat. He went to the aid of the Danes, whose king was Hrothgar. </li></ul><ul><li>They lived in this region . . . </li></ul>
  6. 7. Map of Baltic Region of Scandinavia and the Viking Invasions (700-800)
  7. 8. “Who?” in Review <ul><li>The poem’s hero is Beowulf, a Geat who lives in Scandinavia. He is probably a fictional character. He is certainly an epic hero. The poem is also about three races or tribes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Geats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Danes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Swedes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It is written by an English (Anglo-Saxon) monk who is looking back in time to the days when his ancestors still lived in Scandinavia and had different values. (The Anglo-Saxon code was on its way out, soon to be replaced by Christian values). </li></ul><ul><li>The original audiences would have heard the poem, and they would probably have been distant relatives of those tribes who play major roles in the poem. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Who are the main characters? <ul><li>Beowulf (Geat) </li></ul><ul><li>Hrothgar (Dane) </li></ul><ul><li>Unferth (Dane) </li></ul><ul><li>Wiglaf (Geat) </li></ul><ul><li>Grendel (Monster) </li></ul><ul><li>Grendel’s mother (Monster) </li></ul><ul><li>The dragon (Monster) </li></ul>
  9. 10. More Character Info <ul><li>Many people divide the poem into thirds. It is about Beowulf’s three epic battles with three evil creatures: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grendel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grendel’s Mother </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Dragon </li></ul></ul><ul><li>However, it is also about three tribes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Geats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Danes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Swedes </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. What? <ul><li>What is Beowulf considered an epic poem. It is considered an epic because: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is a long narrative poem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It tells about a larger-than-life hero </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This hero represents the values of his society </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What is he? Beowulf is an epic hero . This character represents the values the Anglo-Saxon people. </li></ul>
  11. 12. What? #2 <ul><li>What is so special about this piece of literature? It is about a time of change in the history of the English people (though it is mostly mythological and fictional) </li></ul><ul><li>It is poetic, creative, imaginative, and one of the oldest works of art in the English language </li></ul><ul><li>It is also important to remember that it is NOT a work written in Latin. It is written in the spoken language of the English people. </li></ul>
  12. 13. When? <ul><li>When was it written? Around 800 - 900 A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>When did the events in it take place? In the fifth century A.D. in the Baltic region. Some events in the poem did happen: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There really was a raid against the Franks by Hygelac, Beowulf’s lord. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most important thing to remember is that it is a poem that reminisces about a previous, “dead” world. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Where? <ul><li>Where was it written? It was written down, most likely, in the kingdom of Mercia (East Central England today). </li></ul><ul><li>What is the setting of Beowulf? In the modern world, it is Denmark and Sweden and the islands in the Baltic between the two countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Also consider more specific settings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The sea, Heorot (the mead-hall), the swamp, the cliff, and the battlefield. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. The Scary, Horror Movie “Where” <ul><li>In the introduction of one version of Beowulf it is suggested that the story taps into “three of our basic sites of fear”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The barricaded house at night </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The infested dark, underwater current </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reptile-haunted rocks of a wilderness </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. What are our basic fears? <ul><li>Today’s scary places: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our beds on a stormy night when we are alone in the house (where we should feel safe) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A murky lake, or the beach where Jaws takes place (Ever been waterskiing and wondered what was nibbling on your toes?). Or, how about a deserted place by yourself? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The dark recesses of the earth: a cave, or even better, your own, dark basement </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. Why? <ul><li>Why do we read it? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s a very creative, imaginative, poetic masterpiece (see the Heaney intro; this is why he wants us to read it—not “because we have to”!!!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It gives us insight into the origins of the British people, the culture who, through seafaring conquest, founded the world we currently live in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It gives us insight into the origins of our language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It gives us insight into all people everywhere and throughout time (time, birth, death, fame/success/glory, honor, friendship, conflict, home, country, adventure, spirituality—all of these things transcend English literature and matter to all people) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s challenging and we all love a good challenge! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s scary and gets us to think about our own worst fears </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s a VERY important piece of literature historically (this is the “because we have to” reason!). </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. Important Themes in the Poem <ul><li>Past, Present, and Future (and Fate) </li></ul><ul><li>Life and Death </li></ul><ul><li>Fame (often achieved through war) </li></ul><ul><li>Setting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geography (Denmark, Geatland, Sweden, . . . And England??) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Meadhall (Heorot) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good vs. Evil & Religion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Man vs. Man </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Man vs. Beast (Man vs. Himself? If allegorical) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good Christian Traits vs. Evil </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good Pagan (Anglo-Saxon traits) vs. Evil </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad Pagan Traits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Christianity vs. Paganism (Paganism not evil) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Anglo-Saxon Code </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friendship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loyalty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fame, Honor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bravery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generosity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Man-Price </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thane’s duty to his Lord; Lord’ duty to his Thanes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Christianity emerging as the dominant faith and worldview in the Scandinavian world </li></ul><ul><li>Stories and Songs themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Masculine and feminine roles in the world </li></ul>
  18. 19. Review of Important Details <ul><li>Epic poem </li></ul><ul><li>Written in Old-English about the early Christian, but still pagan, Scandinavians who eventually conquered most of England </li></ul><ul><li>Epic hero represents the values of his culture </li></ul>
  19. 20. Study Questions Respond to each question using a complete (but brief!) sentence. Each student will turn in all their answers when they have finished ALL of the questions. Turn in to only when every question is complete. Each subsequent slide corresponds to one night’s reading. The numbers in the slides’ titles are the line numbers of the poem.
  20. 21. Study Questions for ll. 1-300 <ul><li>The poem opens with the story of Shield Sheafson. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is he? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is he like? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is he related to Hrothgar? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Describe the funeral rites given to Shield Sheafson? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>It then discusses Hrothgar </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When Hrothgar has achieved fame from fighting, he turns his mind to what? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the name of what he builds? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Monsters in the Night </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Describe the demon who threatens the meadhall. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To whom is Grendel related? (Hint: Think Biblical) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Paganism and Christianity (“You mean they fight , too???) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>According to the poet, who made the earth? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>While Grendel attacks Heorot, he does NOT approach what? Why? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To whom/what do many of the Danes’ “powerful counsellors” turn for help? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Heroes, Heroism, and the Anglo-Saxon Code </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is Hygelac’s thane? From which region/country does he come? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does he hear about? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is Beowulf’s father? What is the world’s opinion of him? </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Study Questions for ll. 301-1007 <ul><li>Belief Systems </li></ul><ul><li>According to Hrothgar, why is Bewoulf there? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Beowulf mean by “Fate goes ever as fate must” (455)? </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the stanza which runs from ll. 473-79. In what/whom does Hrothgar believe? </li></ul><ul><li>Friendship </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of words does Unferth speak? </li></ul><ul><li>What story does Unferth cite when challenging Beowulf? Describe it. </li></ul><ul><li>How does Beowulf respond to Unferth’s challenge? </li></ul><ul><li>The Role of Women in the Poem </li></ul><ul><li>Who is Wealhtheow? What does she do when she enters? </li></ul><ul><li>The Battle with Grendel </li></ul><ul><li>What will Beowulf use to defeat Grendel? </li></ul><ul><li>Describe, ever so briefly, the battle between Beowulf and Grendel. </li></ul><ul><li>How do Beowulf’s men help him? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Beowulf get from Grendel that is proof he has defeated him? </li></ul><ul><li>Where does Grendel go to die? </li></ul><ul><li>Stories within Stories </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the man who appears in ll. 866-873. What does he do to honor Beowulf and why? </li></ul><ul><li>Honor, Fame, and Riches </li></ul><ul><li>How does Hrothgar thank Beowulf? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Hrothgar say about Bewoulf’s mother? </li></ul><ul><li>What do Danes and Geats do to Heorot (990- ?)? What do they do next? </li></ul>
  22. 23. Study Questions for ll. 1008-1709 <ul><li>Heorot Continued </li></ul><ul><li>Fill in the blank: “Inside Heorot / There was nothing but ________” (1016-17). </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of gifts are bestowed on Beowulf? </li></ul><ul><li>Another Song </li></ul><ul><li>The man who sang of Siegmund’s and Beowulf’s greatness sings again. What, in very general terms, is the second song about? </li></ul><ul><li>The Role of Women </li></ul><ul><li>What does Hrothgar’s Queen say as a toast? </li></ul><ul><li>Another Attack? </li></ul><ul><li>What happens when everyone goes to sleep after the feast? </li></ul><ul><li>What two things does Grendel’s mother take back to her fen? </li></ul><ul><li>Preparing to Fight Again </li></ul><ul><li>What does Hrothgar say about his friend? What does this say about friendship and loyalty? </li></ul><ul><li>Re-read the passage running from ll. 1345-82. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Describe the two creatures. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What kind of birth did Grendel have? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does this passage say about nature and the natural world? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>After reading the passage running from ll. 1383-96, go to the BritLitDogs blog and respond to the “Train Wreck” entry. (Read the intro, then respond informally to the prompt. I and other students will be able to read it!!) </li></ul><ul><li>What does the above passage (1383-96) tell us about the Anglo-Saxon heroic code? </li></ul><ul><li>What is Beowulf’s attitude toward death at line 1442? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Unferth give Beowulf? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Unferth lose? </li></ul><ul><li>Battle #2 </li></ul><ul><li>Describe Grendel’s mother’s lair. </li></ul><ul><li>In the end, who decides the victory between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Beowulf then see that might help him? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the “true Lord” (1610-11)? Who do you think this really is? </li></ul>
  23. 24. Study Questions for 1709-2509 <ul><li>After defeating Grendel, Beowulf was compared to Siegemund; to whom is Beowulf compared now, this time the character is a foil to Beowulf. Describe the comparison. </li></ul><ul><li>A long passage delivered by Hrothgar on “true values” is spoken to Beowulf. Summarize some of the important lessons Hrothgar gives Beowulf. </li></ul><ul><li>After Hrothgar give this advice, what happens? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Beowulf tell Unferth about Hrunting? Is this true? Why would Beowulf say what he says? </li></ul><ul><li>At l. 1841, Hrothgar begins to say that Beowulf has three traits that will make him a great king. What are they? </li></ul><ul><li>By defeating Grendel and Grendel’s mother, and coming in friendship, Beowulf has “done” something (l. 1855). What has he done, and how is this a real-world, non-mythological victory? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is Queen Hygd? Who is her “opposite”? What should a queen be like? </li></ul><ul><li>After the story of Frea, what does Beowulf start to discuss? Why might the poet use these digressions? </li></ul><ul><li>What happens between Beowulf and Hygelac (2144-76)? </li></ul><ul><li>How long does Beowulf rule the kingdom before the dragon appears? </li></ul><ul><li>What provokes the dragon’s wrath? </li></ul><ul><li>What is one building that is so important to Beowulf that gets burned down? Why does he think this has happened? </li></ul><ul><li>What keeps Beowulf from lining up with a large army to defeat the dragon? </li></ul><ul><li>The Flashback to Hygelac’s death occurs at lines (???): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Where did Hygelac get killed? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does Hygd offer Beowulf? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why does she offer this to him? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does he accept? Why do you think he does what he does? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why does this story get told at all? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is one of the first things Beowulf did as king? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When Beowulf sits on the cliff, what makes him “sad at heart”? </li></ul><ul><li>What story does Beowulf tell before he goes to fight the dragon? </li></ul>
  24. 25. Study Questions for 2510-end <ul><li>Does Beowulf finally decide to use a weapon? </li></ul><ul><li>Do Beowulf’s men help him? </li></ul><ul><li>Who does help him? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we learn about Wiglaf and his family? </li></ul><ul><li>What does Wiglaf say to Beowulf’s men? </li></ul><ul><li>What happens to Naegling? Why? What does this tell us about Beowulf and swords? </li></ul><ul><li>What is meant by the line, “So every man should act” (2708)? </li></ul><ul><li>Describe what Beowulf thinks about his life as he dies. </li></ul><ul><li>Who does Beowulf thank at line 2794? What does he think will be so good about all the treasure he recovered? </li></ul><ul><li>To whom does Beowulf give power? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you think Beowulf means by, “You are the lat of us . . .”? </li></ul><ul><li>What is Wiglaf’s prediction beginning at line 2884? </li></ul><ul><li>Summarize the story of Ongentheow. How is it commentary on what the future of the Geats will be like? </li></ul><ul><li>Describe Beowulf’s funeral. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the Geat woman’s lament. </li></ul><ul><li>What do you think will happen to the Geats? Why? </li></ul>