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Beowulf Summary

In the land of the Danes (modern day Denmark), a terrible beast, Grendel, plagued the
kingdom of Hrothgar and his people. The Danes suffer for many years until a young Geatish
warrior named Beowulf takes on the challenge of defeating Grendel. He sails with his men
to Heorot, and is thrown a great feast on his arrival.

Although many are joyous at his arrival, one jealous Dane denounces Beowulf and his
reputation, at which point Beowulf boasts about his accomplishments, his victories, and
gives descriptions of stories from the war.
After the celebration, Grendel arrives and Beowulf fights him barehanded. When others try
to aid Beowulf, they find their swords cannot harm the creature. Beowulf defeats Grendel by
tearing his arm off and hangs it as a trophy in the great hall of Heorot for all to see.

The mortally wounded Grendel has retreated to the marshes to die. His mother, a swamp
hag, is now enraged. She kills Hrothgars most loyal warrior before returning to her lair.

Beowulf, Hrothgar, and their men, track Grendels mother, and Beowulf swims into the hags
lair alone. Grendels mother appears to be winning against the Geat, but he stabs her with a
sword found in the lair. Before he leaves, Beowulf finds Grendels body at the bottom of the
swamp and cuts off his head as a trophy for the king.

Years later, Boewulf ascends to the throne of his homeland where he rules wisely for over
50 years. When a would-be thief disturbs a dragon, it threatens his land. Knowing he has
lived a full life and seeing his death before him, Beowulf charges into the action and defeats
the dragon, but not before being bitten in the neck. The dragons venom kills him, and
according to legend, his body is burned on a great funeral pyre, and a burial mound is built
for him overlooking the sea.

Battle with Grendel


Grendel approaches Heorot and tears open the doors. He grabs a sleeping Geat, and eats
him quickly. Grendel next reaches for Beowulf but Beowulf grabs Grendels arm with a grip
stronger than any Grendel has felt before. Grendel becomes frightened, but Beowulfs hold
is too strong for Grendel to escape.

Grendels fierce cries and the sounds of their epic struggle wake the warriors. Heorot
shakes with the force of their fight. The men grab their weapons to help, not knowing that a
spell protects Grendel from all swords.
Finally, Beowulf rips Grendels arm and shoulder from its socket, and the monster, mortally
wounded, flees to the swamp to die. Beowulf mounts Grendels arm as a trophy on the wall
of Heorot.