Summary and analysis of beowulf

Beowulf, summary, characters, analysis


summary and analysis of beowulf

SparkNotes : beowulf : Plot overview

Beowulf is an optimistic poem. Tolkien suggests that its total effect is more like a long, lyrical elegy than an epic. Even the earlier, happier section in Denmark is filled with ominous allusions that were well understood by contemporary audiences. Thus, after Grendels death, king Hrothgar speaks sanguinely of the future, which the audience knows will end with the destruction of his line and the burning of heorot. In the second part the movement is slow and funereal: scenes from beowulfs youth are replayed in a minor key as a counterpoint to his last battle, and the mood becomes increasingly sombre as the wyrd (fate) that comes to all men closes. Beowulf has often been translated into modern English; renderings by seamus heaney (1999) and Tolkien (completed 1926; published 2014) became best sellers. It has also been the source for retellings in text— john Gardner s Grendel (1971 for example, which takes the point of view of the monster—and as movies). The Old English poem beowulf (the name is conditional, by the name of the protagonist) became widely known to the British since the 18th century, when it had begun to be explored by danish philologists.

Beowulf : Prologue - university of Virginia

It is also part of the broader tradition of heroic poetry. Many incidents, such as beowulfs tearing off the monsters arm and his descent into the mere, are familiar motifs from folklore. The ethical values are manifestly the germanic code of loyalty to write chief and tribe and vengeance to enemies. Yet the poem is so infused with. Christian spirit that it lacks the grim fatality of many of the. Eddaic lays or the sagas of, icelandic literature. Beowulf himself seems more altruistic than other Germanic heroes or the ancient Greek heroes of the. It is significant that his three battles are not against men, which would entail the retaliation of the blood feud, but against evil monsters, enemies of the whole community and of civilization itself. Many critics have seen the poem as a christian allegory, with beowulf the champion of goodness and light against the forces of evil and darkness. His sacrificial death is not seen as tragic but as the fitting end of a good (some would say too good) heros life. That is not to say that.

Hrothgar makes a farewell speech about the character of the true hero, as beowulf, enriched with honours and princely gifts, returns home to king Hygelac of the geats. The second part passes rapidly over King Hygelacs subsequent death in a battle (of historical record the death of his son, and beowulfs succession to the kingship and his peaceful letter rule of 50 years. But now a fire-breathing dragon ravages his land and the doughty but aging beowulf engages. The fight is long and terrible and a painful contrast to the battles of his youth. Painful, too, is the desertion of his retainers except for his young kinsman Wiglaf. Beowulf kills the dragon but is mortally wounded. The poem ends with his funeral rites and a lament. Beowulf belongs metrically, stylistically, and thematically to a heroic tradition grounded. Germanic religion and mythology.

summary and analysis of beowulf

Give me a short summary of the epic poem, beowulf?

He then grapples with beowulf, whose powerful grip he cannot escape. He wrenches himself free, tearing off his arm, and leaves, mortally wounded. The next day is one of rejoicing in heorot. But at night as the warriors sleep, Grendels mother comes to avenge her son, killing one of Hrothgars men. In writing the morning beowulf seeks her out in her cave at the bottom of a mere and kills her. He cuts the head from Grendels corpse and returns to heorot. The danes rejoice once more.

It is preserved in a single manuscript that dates to circa 1000 and is known as the. Beowulf manuscript (Cotton ms vitellius a xv). Beowulf falls into two parts. It opens in Denmark, where king Hrothgars splendid mead hall, heorot, has been ravaged for 12 years by nightly visits from an evil monster, Grendel, who carries off Hrothgars warriors and devours them. Unexpectedly, young beowulf, a prince of the geats of southern Sweden, arrives with a small band of retainers and offers to cleanse heorot of its monster. Hrothgar is astonished at the little-known heros daring but welcomes him, and, after an evening of feasting, much courtesy, and some discourtesy, the king retires, leaving beowulf in charge. During the night Grendel comes from the moors, tears open the heavy doors, and devours one of the sleeping geats.

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summary and analysis of beowulf

Descriptive essay over beowulf 50 (homework help)

His dying request is to be cremated in a funeral pyre and buried on a cliff by the sea where passing sailors may see his barrow. The dragons treasure is buried with him, and it is thought that the treasure is still there to this day. Get The Assistance you need! If this kind of assignment is unfamiliar to you or inspiration has suddenly left you, our writers and editors are eager to help! They love literature and know how to handle literary tasks well.

They hold degrees in Literature and are sure to provide you with an A gift level dissertation assignment. Beowulf, heroic poem, the highest achievement. Old English literature and the earliest European vernacular epic. It deals with events of the early 6th century and is believed to have been composed between 700 and 750. Although originally untitled, it was later named after the Scandinavian hero beowulf, whose exploits and character provide its connecting theme. There is no evidence of a historical beowulf, but some characters, sites, and events in the poem can be historically verified. The poem did not appear in print until 1815.

After this, beowulf and his men return to their homeland. He serves his own king, hygelac, with honor until Hygelac is killed in battle and his son dies in a feud. After this, beowulf is crowned king. He reigns for 50 years. But, like hrothgar, his peaceful reign is interrupted as he must face one more demon. It turns out that a rogue fugitive accidentally disturbed the treasure and stole a valuable cup that belonged to a dragon.


The dragon terrorizes the countryside at night, burning houses in its rage, and it burns the house of beowulf. As they are led by the fugitive, beowulf and his men set out to find the dragon in his barrow. As beowulf fights the dragon, his sword, naegling, is not strong enough to slay. One of his men, wiglaf, comes to his side. The two men fight and kill the dragon but not before beowulf is mortally wounded. As beowulf is dying, he leaves his kingdom to wiglaf.

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She moves to cut him down with her knife, but beowulfs armor was forged by the legendary smith Weland and it protects him. Beowulf then sees a giant magic sword, too heavy for an ordinary man, but not for beowulf, and swings it at Grendels mother. This cuts into her spine at her neck and kills her. At this, a magical light illuminates the cave and beowulf discovers the body of Grendel and a great treasure. Beowulf cuts the head off the corpse and the magic sword melts down to the hilt. Beowulf returns to the surface with the head and the hilt, but he leaves the treasure. Another retrolisthesis great celebration is held in heorot. Hrothgar delivers a sermon on the perils of pride and the mutability of time.

summary and analysis of beowulf

However, Grendels mother comes to seek revenge for her son. Not quite as powerful as Grendel, but fueled by essay grief and rage, she takes her sons claw from the mead-hall and abducts one of Scyldings (Aeschere) as beowulf sleeps unaware. The next day, hrothgar, beowulf and group of Scyldings and geats track Grendels mother to her swamp at the edge of a mere. They discover Aescheres head on a cliff which overlooks a lake which conceals the ogres underground lair. Beowulf takes the sword, called Hrunting, from Unferth, who he had argued with previously, and dives into the cave to find Grendels mother. As beowulf approaches the bottom of the lake, grendels mother attacks. She drags him to her cave. Once they reach the dry cavern, beowulf fights back, but Hrunting cannot penetrate the ogre hide of Grendels mother.

to claw. Victorious, beowulf sends the mortally wounded Grendel back to his mere, or pool. The claw of Grendel is hung from the roof of the heorot as a trophy. The next day the Scylds celebrate their victory in the battle of beowulf and Grendel. Hrothgars official bard (scop) performs on his harp and sings traditional lays, which recount great victories of the past. He sings of the victory of the danes at Finnsburh. He also improvises a song celebrating the victory of beowulf. Hrothgars wife, queen wealhteow, offers beowulf a gold collar and her gratitude. After a night of feasting and drinking mead and wine, the entire party beds down for what they think will be their first peaceful night in many years.

For this beowulf wishes to return the favor while gaining honor, glory, and treasure for himself and for the king of the geats, hygelac. On his first night in Hrothgars mead-hall, during a feast, a drunk and rude thane named Unferth insults beowulf by saying the beowulf once lost a swimming contest against to one of his boyhood friends named Breca. Because of this, he claims, beowulf is no match for Grendel. Beowulf responds by explaining to Unferth that he and the other swimmer were in fact separated at sea on the fifth night of the contest, at which point beowulf killed nine sea monsters before he finally swam ashore. He puts Unferth in his place while maintaining his dignity. That night, after the danes retire to their sleeping quarters, beowulf and his men lay in for the night in the mead-hall to await the raid from Grendel. Of course, grendel arrives, furious that there has been so much celebration in the mead-hall. He attacks the geats. After killing one of them, Grendel goes after beowulf.

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Beowulf is without doubt the most ancient surviving epic poem of the so called Anglo-saxon epic tradition. Set in the sixth century in the southwestern part of the contemporary Sweden, the poem begins with a genealogy of the royal dynasty of the Scyldings, or Danes. This royal line is named for a mythic hero ancestor who arrived at the shores of this region as a castaway infant. The child, Scyld Scefing, landed on the shore in a ship loaded with treasure. This funeral of Scyld is marked as an early event, resume but the poem soon shifts to the present moment in which the current King Hrothgar, the great grandson of Scyld, presides over a great mead-hall, called heorot as a successful warrior-king. However, for 12 years, his mead-hall has been beset by a murderous ogre. This ogre, grendel, is a descendant of the biblical murderer cain, and attacks the mead-hall nightly, menacing Hrothgar, raiding the mead-hall, and killing the warriors (thanes as they are called in the poem). A young warrior named beowulf from geatland, in present southwestern Sweden, with 14 of his men, comes to the aid of the Scyldings. Hrothgar, it turns out, helped shelter beowulfs father during a deadly feud.


Summary and analysis of beowulf
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