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Beowulf Discussion Guide

Part 1 & 2 – “The Coming of Grendel” and “The Coming of Beowulf” 1. What values of Anglo-Saxon culture do you see emphasized in Beowulf, and where? Provide two examples with a quote for each. 2. What kind of king is Hrothgar and what kind of relationship does he have with his men? Is this depiction of ruler/follower consistent with Anglo- Saxon beliefs? Can you find the kenning that Beowulf uses when addressing him? 3. Characterize Grendel, drawing upon key descriptive language to support your characterization. Include three key quotes. How does the narrator show us he is “evil”? 4. Find three kennings that the narrator uses to describe Grendel. How do these kennings add to our characterization of Grendel as a monster? 5. Find examples of where you see pagan and Christian values intersecting in Beowulf. How in particular do you see the role of fate or wyrd represented? Provide quotes. 6. How is Beowulf immediately characterized as a hero? Look specifically at lines 130-140. 7. Analyze Beowulf’s boast. How does he impress the king in order to be accepted into his service to fight Grendel? How does Wulfgar’s speech prepare us for the boast? How does the boast add to or develop our characterization of Beowulf as a hero? 8. Where do you see the conflict of good vs. evil represented in this epic home? Provide specific examples. Parts 3 & 4 – “Unferth’s Taunt” and “The Battle With Grendel” 9. Is Unferth’s taunt of Beowulf justified? Do you think the speaker views Unferth positive or negatively? Have you ever been questioned when you have tried to say that you were capable of performing something? Explain. 10.How does Beowulf respond to Unferth’s taunt? Would you characterize Beowulf as an effective speaker here? Note his use of metaphor, aphorism, foreshadowing and irony. 11. Continue to explore the conflict between good vs. evil in these episodes. In “The Battle With Grendel,” find at least one symbol, at least two examples of imagery, and three examples of active voice.

12. Continue to explore the conflict between good vs. evil in these episodes. In “The Battle With Grendel,” find at least two kennings, at least one example of foreshadowing, and analyze the speaker’s point of view. Do we hear Grendel’s side? 13. Where do we see characteristics of the epic, especially in the battle between Beowulf and Grendel? Consider, for example, the role or presence of the supernatural. Analyze the setting of Grendel’s lair. In what way is this lair represented by the poet as hell?

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