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QUESTIONS

Oral transmission is attributed to this poem; do you see any rhetorical figures
variations, kennings, heitis that might reveal oral composition and transmission?
The main rhetorical figures in Beowulf consist mostly of alliteration and metaphor.
Many apparent hyperboles describing the feats of Beowulf are not true hyperboles,
since what appear to be exaggerationssuch as a passage saying Beowulf swam from
Sweden to Finland or a passage saying Beowulf had the strength of thirtywere
intended to be taken literally. Kenningscompound expressions, often hyphenated,
representing a single nounoccur often in Beowulf. Examples of kennings are the
following: whale-road for sea, sea-wood for ship, shield-bearer for warrior, battle-spoil
for treasure, ring-nets for chain mail, sword-draught for a sword swallowing the blood
of an enemy, and twilight-spoiler for dragon. A kenning is a form of metaphor and is
similar to the Homeric epithet.

Where and when does this story happen?
The story is set in Scandinavia, before the migration of the Anglo-Saxons to Britain.

What are the attributes and functions given to king Shield?
The legendary Danish king from whom Hrothgar is descended, Shield Sheafson is the
mythical founder who inaugurates a long line of Danish rulers and embodies the
Danish tribes highest values of heroism and leadership. The poem opens with a brief
account of his rise from orphan to warrior-king, concluding, That was one good king.


Are there any legendary or mythological features in this portrait?
Im not sure but I think the scene in which King Shields funeral description is told could
be a mythological figure. He was buried in a boat surrounded by treasure. This was a
common practice in those times because they thought they will need treasure in the
other life. In addition to this, King Shield is the legendary ancestor of the Danish royal
lineage known as the Scyldings.




How does the poet explain Grendels nature?
His nature is ambiguous. Though he has many animal attributes and a grotesque,
monstrous appearance, he seems to be guided by vaguely human emotions and
impulses, and he shows more of an interior life than one might expect. Exiled to the
swamplands outside the boundaries of human society, Grendel is an outcast who
seems too long to be reinstated. The poet hints that behind Grendels aggression
against the Danes lies loneliness and jealousy. By lineage, Grendel is a member of
Cains clan, whom the creator had outlawed and condemned as outcasts.. He is thus
descended from a figure that epitomizes resentment and malice.

How do we account for biblical passages being used in the text?
It is not so difficult to trace back some passages to biblical context. We have to
remember that Grendel is by lineage a member of the Cains clan, who was the oldest
son of Adan. The story of Cain comes from chapter four of the book of Genesis in the
Old Testament. This is the first biblical account we find in Beowulf.

What are the non-human features given to Grendel?
Grendel is described as powerful grim demon, a prowler through the dark, a fiend out
of hell, God cursed brute, greedy and grim. All these characteristics together with his
heritage or lineage are some of the non-human feature this creature shows.

Whats the poets perspective about heathen ceremonies performed by the Danes?
The poet talks about the hard time these people were going through and the need
they had to look for pagan gods in order to have some relief from Grendel. But cursed
is who search for pagan gods help. These transgressors would never see God, but
those who after death can approach the Lord are blessed. The Almighty God was the
only divine authority to which people should go to look for aid and protection.

When do we first hear about Beowulf; how is he presented?
Beowulf, nephew of the Geatish king Hygelac, is the greatest hero in the world. He
lives in Geatland, a realm not far from Denmark, in what is now southern Sweden.
When Beowulf hears tales of the destruction wrought by Grendel, he decides to travel
to the land of the Danes and help Hrothgar defeat the demon. He voyages across the
sea with fourteen of his bravest warriors until he reaches Hrothgars kingdom.

When do we start listening to speeches and whats their effect?
In line 255 we first star listening to speeches; in this occasion the first one to open his
word-hoards was the very Beowulf. He explains to the coastguard where he comes
from and what the purpose of his visit to that land. This speeches look like if the reader
was witnessing a conversation or dialogue, and not a mere narration of historical
accounts.

How is Hrothgar presented?
Hrothgar is presented as a stricken, helpless, humiliated person. Bewildered and
stunned, staring aghast at the demons trail, in deep distress. He was numb with grief.
Hrothgar did not know what to do with Grendel because he was even more powerful
than the guards and this situation was driving Hrothgar mad. At first sight, the king is
presented as powerless man against Grendels raids.

What are said to be Beowulfs abilities; is he a normal character?
Beowulf describes himself as a warrior of awesome strength, who bound five beasts,
and the night sea slaughtered sea-brutes, hed been the defender of the Geats. For
these triumphs he thinks he is able to fight Grendel because his abilities are in some
way supernatural as well as Grendels.



Where do we find the concept of wyrd (fate)?
The word fate is found in line 697 dealing with the episode in which Grendel strikes in
Heorot in order to kill everybody there, he would rip life and devour them, feed on
their flesh; but his fate that night was due to change, his days of ravening had come to
an end.
The dragon is also the poems most potent symbol, embodying the idea of wyrd, or
fate, that imbues the story with an atmosphere of doom and death. Whereas Beowulf
is essentially invulnerable to Grendel and his mother, he is in danger from the
beginning against the dragon. As Beowulf feels his own death approaching, the dragon
emerges from the earth, creating the feeling that the inevitable clash will result in
Beowulfs death.

Do we find any flashback or forward movement in the story?
There is a flashback in the accounts of Beowulf, when a man called Unferth makes him
remember of a fight against some sea-monsters when he was with Brecca. Unferth,
envious of his kinsmens admiration of Beowulf, begins to taunt the Geat. He claims
that Beowulf once lost a swimming match against Breca and that Beowulf will meet
with defeat for a second time when he faces Grendel in the mead-hall. Unruffled,
Beowulf accuses Unferth of drunkenness and describes his own version of what
happened in the swimming match.

Also after Grendels overcome the narrator compounds this rejoicing of having killed
the monste by informing us that a reversal of fortune is coming: how could they know
fate, / the grim shape of things to come (12331234). Beowulfs plot often anticipates
itself in this manner. It may even seem to us as though the narrator is giving away the
plot and destroying the suspense. For the Beowulf poet, however, the pull of fate is so
strong that an event that is fated to happen in the future already has a strong
presence. Fate walks among these characters whether they know it or not.
The narrators tendency to project forward to future events manifests itself as well in
his hints that Hrothulf, Hrothgars nephew, will usurp the throne from Hrothgars sons.


What is the relationship between Unferth and Beowulf?
According to the text Beowulf and Unferth are just mere friends as Beowulf states in
line 495.

Whats the effect of the queens entrance at this point; what is her function?
Wealhtheow, wife of Hrothgar and queen of the Danes, enters with the ceremonial
goblet, which she offers to everyone in the room. She thanks God for sending Beowulf
to fight Grendel, and Beowulf replies with a formal boast, stating that he will either
distinguish himself with a heroic deed or die in the mead-hall. The queen makes a
parenthesis in Beowulf narration, her function, apart from being the incarnation of
nobleness and refinement, was that of observer and host of the Geats.

Do we see any trace of the comitatus relationship in these passages?
Hrothgars story of his former association with Beowulfs father and Beowulfs story of
his swimming match against Breca help to shed light on the main story by refining the
readers understanding of the Germanic heroic code of values. In Hrothgars story of
his previous association with Beowulfs father, we learn that there is a history of
obligation between these two families. This anecdote explains the concept of the
wergild, or death-price, a set price that one pays, as Hrothgar did on Ecgtheows
behalf, to compensate the kin of anyone a warrior has killed. Paying the price of a
mans life is the only way to keep the cycle of vengeance that characterizes a feud
from continuing indefinitely. Such a payment replaces the volley of violent retaliation
with an exchange of obligation. Thus Beowulf is at Heorot both to avenge the death of
so many Danes at the hands of Grendel and also to discharge his fathers debt to
Hrothgar.

What is the behaviour of the group of retainers towards their leader?
The Danish warriors are amazed at Beowulfs accomplishment. They race around on
horseback in celebration, following the tracks of Grendels retreat to the marshes.

What are the fragments associated to day and night?
The first fragments associated to day are those related to Beowulf arriving at the
shores of Denmark and his meeting with Hrothgar, and those related to night are the
one concerning Grendels attacks on Heorot.



Do you think binary oppositions represent an organising narrative device in the
poem?
The oppositions used in the poem without any doubt represent an organising narrative
device in the poem. Through these contracts the poet builds the structure of the poem
and achieves his goal in making a clear distinction between good and evil. Throughout
the whole poem we see oppositions, this technique allows the poet to emphasise both
extremes up to the end.

What other oppositions do we find?
Poem's Hero: Beowulf, a mighty warrior from the land of the Geats in Sweden. He is
noble, courageous, bold, and stronger by far than any other living mortal.
Poem's Villains: (1) Grendel, a foul marsh-dweller born of the hatred of the biblical
Cain. (In Genesis, Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, kills his brother, Abel, the second
son, after God accepts Abel's sacrifice but not Cain's.) Grendel is a nightmarish
creaturehalf-beast, half-manthat strikes at the darkest hour. (2) Grendel's mother, a
loathsome fiend protected by sea monsters; (3) a fire-breathing dragon that can
destroy an entire town with a mere exhale.
Apart from these two oppositions, also that of Good and Evil is very clear in the poem,
as well as Life and Death, Human and Monster, Nutural and Supernatural, Christian
and Pagan, etc.


What sort of poems does the scop sing; do you think the audience would know
them?
A Danish bard sings Beowulfs story to honor him and also recites the story of
Sigemund, a great hero who slew a terrible dragon. The dragon was the guardian of a
treasure hoard, which Sigemund won by slaying the dragon. The bard also sings of, and
contrasts Beowulf with, Heremod, an evil Danish king who turned against his own
people.



Do you see any relationship between the main plot and these stories?
From a general view point there seems to be a relation between these stories. As
Sigemund overcame the dragon, so did Beowulf with another monster. Both of them
were warriors of mighty power and courage, it is not queer that the bard establishes
such a comparison between the two. On the other hand, Heremod is presented as an
evil person who was a traitor for his people meanwhile Beowulf was considered a
national hero in his own country and abroad as well.
Also after the killing of Grendel, in the Finnburg episode told by the scop that sings in
the mead-hall we see some flashes of the Saxons fate. The story also gives the reader
a sense of the Anglo-Saxon idea of wyrd, or fate, in which individuals conceive of
themselves as directed by necessity and a heroic code that compels them to act in
certain fixed ways. The strong discussion of fate in this section is ominous, and the
reader quickly gets the sense that the Danes and Geats are a little too exuberant in
their rejoicing over the defeat of Grendel.


Why is the she-monster mentioned at this precise moment?
I think she is mentioned just in this moment because the poet wants to increase the
attention and emotion. It second part is like a second climax. It was necessary then to
introduce the marvellous again in order to raise attentions and drama at the same
time. The intensity of the epic increases in these lines, as its second part begins with
the arrival of Grendels mother at the hall. The idea of the blood feud, which has been
brought up earlier in the scops stories and in Hrothgars memory of the Wulfings
grudge against Ecgtheow, now enters the main plot.

What is the purpose of her visit to Heorot?
As the warriors sleep in the mead-hall, Grendels mother, a horrible monster in her
own right, descends on Heorot in a frenzy of grief and rage, seeking vengeance for her
sons death.



Do we know her feelings or motives?
Yes, in line 1243 we find that she had sallied forth on a savage journey, grief-racked
and ravenous, desperate for revenge. She got really upset when she heard of her only
sons death and about the person who slaughtered him, for this purpose she journeyed
to Denmark in order to take revenge.

Compare this episode to Grendels attacks.
When Grendels mother entered in Heorot she falls upon and seizes a sleeping man,
the noise wakes the others. The warriors seize their swords and rush toward her. The
monster panics and flees, still carrying her victim, Hrothgars trusted adviser, Aeschere,
in her grasp. Her attack on Heorot is even appropriate and honorable by the standards
of the warrior culture, as it marks an attempt to avenge her sons death.

Comparing this episode with Grendels, I think they are quiet similar, because they
entered in Heorot almost in the same way, and at first the kill just one person, in the
second episode Grendels mothers escapes, however in Grendels episode he faces
Beowulf and that makes the difference, Grendel dies in the fighting.
Grendel bursts into Heorot. He tears the door from its hinges with his bare hands and
immediately devours a Geatish warrior while Beowulf carefully observes. When
Grendel reaches out to snatch up Beowulf, he is stunned to find his arm gripped with
greater strength than he knew possible.

What is the tone of Hrothgars words when he talks about Aeschere and his
whereabouts?
Hrothgars tone is that of sorrow and sadness. This news about his friend was a very
heart-breaking one. He is really sorry at what had happen and of course he demands
vengeance for his friends life.



What are the elements through which the King describes the monsters mere?
The poet makes use of two elements to describe the mere. First, he says that at night
the water burns, and a few lines after, the poet states that wind blows up and stormy
weather makes clouds scud and the skies weep.

Are there many other landscape depictions?
Alongside the expedition to the mere some other landscapes can be found. In line
1414, for instance, the troop of warriors and Hrothfar discovered a dismal wood,
mountain trees growing out at an angle above grey stones: the bloodshot water
surged underneath.

What is Beowulfs and the narrators attitude in front of these dangers?
Even though these danger and strange creature and animal were in and around the
mere, Beowulf got ready, donned his war-gear, indifferent to death. Beowulf did not
fear anything; he was apparently born to face all types of dangers.

How is Beowulfs sword described?
Beowulfs sword was named Hrunting. Its iron blade with its ill-boding patterns had
been tempered in blood. It had never failed to hand of anyone who hefted it in battle,
anyone who had fought and faced the worst in the gap of danger.

What sort of place does he find?
When Beowulf arrives at the mere, he finds a lot of monsters, strange creature, but
inside the water Beowulf encounters some other risks. Beowulf swims downward for
the better part of a day before he sees the bottom. As he nears the murky lake floor,
Grendels mother senses his approach. She lunges at him and clutches him in her grip,
but his armor, as predicted, prevents her from crushing him. She drags Beowulf to her
court, while a mass of sea-monsters claws and bites at him.




What is the attitude of the heros followers at his delay to return to the surface?
On land, the Danes lose hope when they see blood well up from the depths. Sure that
their champion is lost, they return to Heorot in sorrow. Only the small band of Geats,
Beowulfs kinsmen, waits on.



What sort of spoils does Beowulf take with him?
Beowulf seizes its hilt, which remains solid and, grasping Grendels head in his other
hand, swims for the surface. He finds that the waters he passes through are no longer
infested now that the demon has been destroyed. When he breaks the surface, the
Geats are overjoyed as they advance to meet him and unfasten his armor.
Beowulf presents the head and the sword hilt to Hrothgar, assuring him of his future
security.

Why does he leave the treasure behind?
As far as I know, Beowulf took the treasure with him. At least he did not deny anything
from Hrothgar. Hrothgar praises Beowulf again, saying that he has united the Geats
and the Danes in ties of friendship and loyalty. He presents Beowulf with twelve
treasures.


Do we find any other biblical references in these fragments?
Once he defeats Grendels mother, her lair is illuminated more thoroughly: A light
appeared and the place brightened the way the sky does when heavens candle is
shining clearly. Because light bears the implication of Christian holiness and salvation,
with these words, the poet suggests that hell has been purged of its evil and sanctity
restored.

How would you describe King Hrothgars wisdom in his conversation with Beowulf?
Beowulf receives earnest advice from Hrothgar, by now a father-figure, about how to
comport himself both as a man and as a ruler. I think in this occasion Hrothgar was
taliking from the point of view of a King, he taught Beowulf how to behave and act as a
leader. Beowulf would probably turn into a great ruler or king some day, so Hrothgars
wisdom would help him in this matter.

How does Beowulf die?
Beowulf died when fighting against a third monster, a dragon who was the protector of
a great treasure. Beowulf strikes the dragon in the head with his great sword Naegling,
but the sword snaps and breaks. The dragon lands a bite on Beowulfs neck, and blood
begins to flow. Even though at the end Beowulf kills the dragon, he realizes that the
dragon bite is venomous and that he is dying.

Is there anything he can be proud of at the end?
Beowulf sends Wiglaf to inspect the dragons treasure and bring him a portion of it,
saying that death will be easier if he sees the hoard that he has liberated. Wiglaf
descends into the barrow and quickly returns to Beowulf with an armload of treasure.
The old king, dying, thanks God for the treasure that he has won for his people. At the
end Beowulf was really proud of having overcome the dragon and having gotten the
treasure for his people.



What is his ultimate wish; what sort of eternal life does he crave for?
Beowulf tells Wiglaf that he must now look after the Geats and order his troop to build
him a barrow that people will call Beowulfs Barrow.


What does Beowulf think Wiglaf will do with the treasure?
Whereas Beowulfs first two encounters with monsters end with him being granted
treasures whose splendor represents his valor, the final encounter ends with Beowulf
clutching objects whose decaying state epitomizes his own proximity to death.
Furthermore, these riches will be entombed with Beowulf, so that the treasure will be
hoarded, in effect, rather than redistributed, as the heroic code normally demands.


Whose point of view are we given to show Wiglafs concern for his dead lord?
We are given the narrators point of view. He tells of Wiglafs pain and sorrow. Wiglaf
bowed down with grief at the loss of his lord.


From Wiglafs perspective there is no hope of survival for the Geats. Why?
He suggests that foreign warlords will be sure to attack the Geats now that Beowulf
can no longer protect them. Wiglaf sends a messenger with tidings to the Geats, who
wait nervously for news of the outcome of the battle. The messenger tells them of
Beowulfs death and warns them that the hostile Franks and the Frisians will most
certainly attack them.

After warning that the Swedes will attack them again, the messenger foresees and
advances the funerary ceremony and the luck of the Geats; through what elements?
The messenger made use of at least three of the natural elements. The first one is
found in line 2980 when he talks about Beowulf pyre that was going to be made of a
pile of rings that will be burn and go up with the flame to heaven. Some lines after we
find a reference to the sand in which the soldiers found the body of their leader laying
lifeless. Wiglaf returns to the dragons bier to collect the treasure that Beowulf bought
with his life. They hurl the dragons body into the water.


Why do you think the narrator has included a second account of the treasure?
The issue of the cursed treasure or the second account of it compounds the ambiguity
surrounding the meaning of Beowulfs death. The poets assertion that the ancient
warrior acted wrongly in burying the gold underground suggests that Beowulf is the
God-chosen liberator of the imprisoned wealth. Though Beowulf approaches the
matter of the treasure unselfishly, wishing to free his people from the menace of the
dragon, his death nevertheless seems something of a punishment.

Has Beowulf been selfish? What has been Beowulfs mistake from Wiglafs point of
view?
Wiglaf reflects that there may have been an element of irresponsibility in Beowulfs
single-mindedness and daring when he proclaims, Often when one man follows his
own will / many are hurt. This happened to us This declaration, in conjunction with
the earlier statement that Beowulf was too proud to field a large army against the
dragon, suggests that his actions were not wholly courageous but also, to a degree,
foolhardy and headstrong. Like Wiglaf, we are left to ponder how courage can balance
with judgment to yield true heroism.

Do we see any funeral songs dedicated to the hero? Could we regard Beowulf as a
funerary hymn? What would you say the structure of the poem is?
Yes, almost at the end of the poem, we see a Geat woman that sang out in grief, with
hair bound up, she unburdened herself of her worst fears. I think this poem could be
regarded as a funeral hymn because it treats the accounts of a person that was really
valiant and important for his people. In structure, Beowulf is divided chronologically
into two main sections: one that focuses on Beowulf as a young man and one that
focuses on him as an old man. In terms of action, it is divided into three main sections:
one that introduces the characters and describes Beowulf's conquest of Grendel, one
that describes Beowulf's defeat of Grendel's mother, and one that describes Beowulf's
defeat of the dragon with the help of Wiglaf.

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