Beowulf Flashcard Example #71021

When was it written?
Between 700 -1000 AD
Who is the author?
unknown
Where does Beowulf take place?
Denmark & Sweden, in Scandinavia
How was the story spread?
Oral tradition
Who actually wrote down the story of Beowulf?
Christian monks
What language was Beowulf originally composed in?
Old English
Beowulf is an example of an _____ hero
epic
What is an epic hero?
the central figure in a long narrative that reflects the values and heroic ideals of a particular society
What is a common flaw of an epic hero?
hubris
What are two important literary elements in Beowulf?
Alliteration and Kennings
What character is mentioned in the very beginning of Beowulf?
Shield Sheafson, the king of the Danes
What two religions can be found in the story of Beowulf?
Paganism and Christianity
Beowulf is from what kingdom?
the Geats
Beowulf is the nephew of what Geat ruler?
Hygelac
Who is Beowulf’s father?
Ecgtheow
Who was the first Danish ruler?
Shield, grandfather of Halfdane, great grandfather of Hrothgar
Who is the current king of the Danes?
Hrothgar
Why does Beowulf help Hrothgar?
To pay back the debt of his father, and to defeat the terrible monster and gain more fame
Even before Beowulf battles Grendel, how does Hrothgar know about Beowulf?
He knew his father. He has heard about him, which means that his fame from battles has probably been sung about
What three things does Beowulf say when he meets Hrothgar?
1. He identifies himself and his lineage
2. He identifies the problem of the Danes
3. He speaks of his achievements – meaning his past defeats of monsters
Who is the first evil character presented in the story of Beowulf?
Grendel
Who is Grendel?
he is a strong and evil water-monster who lives at the bottom of a haunted pool with his mother, relative of Cain (Cain killed his brother)
What kind of abilities does Grendel have?
He has sharp claws, he can lift and devour many men, he can hunt at night and lives in the water
What does Grendel represent?
evil, fear of the unknown, AND the outsider/outcast
Grendel and his mother had a curse put on them which entails that what cannot hurt them?
Man-made weapons
Beowulf decides to fight Grendel with what?
his bare hands
Why are the Danes reluctant to accept Beowulf?
Because they want their own warriors to fight Grendel and they feel threatened by the Geats coming in to defeat the monster for them; it makes them feel weak
Who questions Beowulf’s ability in battle?
Unferth
What story does Unferth bring up to embarrass Beowulf?
the swim race
Who did Beowulf race in a swimming competition when he was younger?
Breca
What happened in the swimming race?
Beowulf and Brecca made a bet to see who could swim faster, Beowulf lost because he was attacked by sea monsters after a storm and had to defeat them, Brecca was pushed ahead by the storm and won
What did Brecca and Beowulf swim with?
Full armor and swords
How long did Brecca and Beowulf race?
7 days
How does Beowulf counter Unferth’s claim that Beowulf is too prideful?
He says that Unferth is a coward who hasn’t even tried to defeat Grendel and he even killed his own men
What do Beowulf’s warriors do after their feast in Heorot?
Go to sleep
What does Grendel do when he first enters Heorot?
Kills one of the Geats
Beowulf uses what to display his defeat of Grendel?
Grendel’s arm
Where does Beowulf display Grendel’s arm?
in the rafters of Heorot–like the wall
When Grendel’s mother finds out about Grendel’s death what does she take first?
Hrothar’s best advisor–Aschere and Grendel’s arm from Heorot
What do these quotations describe?
“windy Cliffs, wolf-dense where water pours from the rocks”, “mist streams like black clouds”, “…groves of trees…covered with frozen spray, and wind down snakelike roots”, “snakelike roots that reach as far as the water and help keep it dark”, “that lake burns like a torch” , “no one knows its bottom, no wisdom reaches such depths” – explain how the lake is unknown, “A stag with great thorns…prefers to die on those shores, refuses to save its life”, “waves splash toward the sky, as dark as the air”, “the heavens weep”, “terrible home”
Grendel’s mother’s home
What does Grendel’s mother do to get Hrothgar and Beowulf angry?
She kills Aschere and leaves his head on the shore for them to see and so that she knows that they will come for her
What experienced does Beowulf have that may prove helpful in his battle with Grendel’s mother?
He has fought sea monsters before
What is Hrunting? And what is its purpose?
The sword of Unferth, Beowulf tries to cut off Grendel’s mother’s head with it, but he is unsuccessful
Beowulf decides again to use his _____ to win the battle
bare hands
What element does this quotation show?
“God, who sent him victory, gave judgment For truth and right, Ruler of the Heavens…”
Foreshadowing that Beowulf would win the battle against Grendel’s mother
What does Beowulf actually end up using to kill Grendel’s mother?
the sword of the Giants–he sees it on the cave wall–Deus ex machina
What did everyone think when Beowulf went to battle for the second time?
that he was dead, because it took so long and blood was coming up from the mere
What does Beowulf take back after the battle?
Grendel’s head, with the sword handle
What does Hrothgar warn Beowulf about?
The effects of having too much pride
About how old is Beowulf when he leaves the land of the Danes?
about 27 years old
When he goes back to the Geats, what does he do?
He becomes the king and rules for 50 years
About how old is Beowulf when he becomes king?
37 years old
The story resumes again when Beowulf is about how old?
87 years old
Why does Beowulf feel insufficient?
He is only living off the fame and glory of his reputation, but he feels that he needs to prove his worth and greatness
What does Beowulf need to do to re-establish himself as a warrior?
find a battle
What happens to cause the next battle?
A servant of Beowulf’s discovers the cave of a dragon along the cliffs and decides to steal a cup
What do dragons normally do?
Hoard treasure and count it
What does Beowulf do to “solve” this problem?
He decides to fight the dragon instead of simply returning the cup and he does not gather a large enough army to do it
What does Beowulf decided to fight the dragon with?
armor and his sword and shield
What happens to Beowulf’s chosen warriors?
They abandon him in fear
Who comes back to help Beowulf?
Wiglaf
What immediately happens in the battle?
The dragon melts the shield of Beowulf and breaks the sword
What does the dragon do next?
He bites Beowulf by the throat and poison seeps into his body
What happens to the dragon?
Both Beowulf and Wiglaf stab him and his body is tossed into the sea
What does Beowulf ask Wiglaf to do before he dies?
He asks him to bring him some of the dragon’s treasure
What does Beowulf give to Wiglaf right before he dies?
His gold necklace, helmet, rings and mail shirt
Why was it necessary that Beowulf die in his last battle?
Because he fought the dragon, which in Anglo-Saxon society was seen as Death, the Devourer AND it shows the hero’s tragic flaw–too much pride
What happens to Beowulf?
He is burned with the treasure at a funeral pyre
What is significant about the funeral?
A woman wails loudly, which suggests that the Geats are doomed. They will soon be attacked.
What is built in honor of Beowulf?
a barrow/mound/memorial for all to see
What does Wiglaf do after the funeral of Beowulf?
He shames and banishes the warriors who had deserted Beowulf in his last battle

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