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Literature 12 Learning Guide 1: Anglo-Saxon Literature and Beowulf

God must decide / Who will be given to deaths cold grip. INTRODUCTION
The Anglo-Saxons were a remarkable people, with a rich culture that favoured intricate and art and high decoration, and a strong tradition of the warrior class. Their language, which we now refer to as Old English, was different enough from Modern English that we cannot read texts in their original form, without translation. Although nearly all Old English poetry is preserved in only four manuscriptsindicating that what has survived is not necessarily the best or most representativemuch of it is of high literary quality. The world of the Anglo-Saxons was violent and dangerous. Rival kings fought for control of the best land, and it was very much a warrior society. Warriors spent their leisure times in mead halls, listening to court poets, called scops, sing about the triumphs of their greatest heroes. An Anglo-Saxon hero had to be able to fight and defend his people, and had to be able to lead them into battle. It is the legends of these daring men, composed into epics, that have survived to this day. Beowulf, a complete epic, is the oldest surviving Germanic epic as well as the longest and most important poem in Old English. It originated as a pagan saga conveyed orally from one generation to the next. The version of Beowulf that is still in existence was written down by a Christian poet, probably early in the 8th century. Since most of the people who could write at this time were monks in the Christian church, it is not surprising that some Christian content has found its way into the epic, adding another layer to the exciting story.

Activity 1.1 Activity 1.2 Short Answer Questions for LG 2................................................... 5 marks Flashcards for LG 2 ........................................................................ 5 marks
Please hand in your flashcards in the same order that they are presented in this Learning Guide

Activity 1.3 Activity 1.4 Activity 1.5

Beowulf Sight Passage ................................................................ 15 marks Beowulf Essay Outline ................................................................ 25 marks Beowulf Essay Written Expression .............................................. 25 marks Beowulf Essay Content ............................................................... 25 marks

Literature 12

LG 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

Rafel, Burton trans., from Beowulf, Adventures in English Literature. Athena Edition. Toronto: Holt Rinehart and Winston, Harcourt Brace and Company, 2996. 12 30. Rafel, Burton trans., The Seafarer, Adventures in English Literature. Athena Edition. Toronto: Holt Rinehart and Winston, Harcourt Brace and Company, 2996. 12 30. (Student directed lesson)

alliteration allusion aphorism caesura characterization colloquialism conflict epic essay *ethnocentricity figure of speech foreshadowing formal diction hero heroic tradition image imagery irony kenning literary essay literal language metaphor myth omniscient point of view oral tradition personification poetry point of view rime-giver rhythm scop setting symbol thesis thesis statement

Focus 1:

The Anglo-Saxons

A: Read The Anglo-Saxon Period: 449 2066 in Adventures in Literature, beginning on page 2.

Activity 1.1.


B: Answer questions 1-1 to 1-6 at the end of this Learning Guide. You may answer directly on the worksheet, which will be returned to you for study purposes.

Focus 2:

Anglo-Saxon Versification and The Seafarer

The poem The Seafarer should be our first student presented poem. There are a number of elements of Anglo-Saxon poetry that we can identify here that will help us in our reading of Beowulf. Turn to page 35 in your textbook and read The Seafarer.

Questions for Learning 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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Read the poem slowly and see if you can imagine the poem as a conversation between two speakers. There are two distinct attitudes being expressed: the enthusiasm of the youth for new adventure and the weariness of the old sailor recounting his hardships. As you read note the powerful descriptions in the poem. The descriptions are enhanced by the metrical charm of the poem and by the flowing alliteration. In Anglo-Saxon poetry, the number of stresses, not the number of syllables, is the basis of the poetic line. 'Normally, there are four stressed syllables in each line; of these, at least three are alliterated (alliteration: repetition of the same initial letter or sound). Each line is divided into two parts, with a slight pause (caesura) between. In each of these half-lines there are two beats; at least one of the beats in the first half alliterates with the first accented syllable in the second half. (The first beat in the second half of a line is called the rime-giver.) The number of unaccented syllables varies from line to line. Such lines as the following have the typical beat. Line / / / /

Of smashing surf / / when I sweated in the cold

("sweated" is the rime-giver) / / /

41 Grown so brave / /, or so graced by God

("graced" is the rime-giver) Let us now look at line 9. The emphasis achieved by the beat here is supported by the parallelism of expression, and by the repetition of an idea in synonymous words or phrases: 9 In icy bands, bound with frost

For another example, look at line 15: Line 15 Alone in a world blown clear of love In lines 59-60, note the phrase "whales' home." This is a synonym for sea. Such synonyms are called kennings. Kennings are metaphors of a particular type. They find expression in such phrases as "earl's raiment" for armour and "swan's road" or "whale's road" for sea. Make it a habit to watch for these kennings; you will find that they enrich the description.

Activity 1.1 (continued): Questions

A: Answer questions 2-1 to 2-5 at the end of this Learning Guide.

Activity 1.2.


As you work through the Literature 12 and English 12 courses, you will discover that there are many terms you need to know for the provincial exam nearly 300! This is a lot to cram for, especially since much of it is memorization. You also need to be familiar enough with each of the 41 works (including Beowulf) to recognize the entire work and author from a quotation.
Frances Kelsey Secondary Mrs. M. Carmichael

Last printed 04/02/2009 1:47:00 PM

Personally, I have found the use of flashcards invaluable in learning this material. In order to do a flashcard most efficiently: a. only one piece of information is on each card (you can cut your cards in half) b. put the word or phrase on one side, and the definition, in words that make sense to you, on the other. c. set up your cards so that you can study them from either side. For example, you might read a term, and come up with a definition, or you might read a definition and remember the appropriate term. You will also answer a number of questions and do some self-marking activities. Whenever you get an answer that doesnt agree with mine, be sure to argue it out with me! You can add any additional flashcards, such as particularly tricky questions, that you wish. Some terms may have fairly lengthy definitions. Here, for example, is my flashcard on epic
is a poem of considerable length national in theme usually composed when a young nation is searching for its own identity. its heroes surpass ordinary men in deeds, size, strength, valour, speech, etc. They are larger than life the gods or supernatural elements are often involved in the deed and combats of men always exalted and lofty in the style of writing May have an invocation or statement of purpose


At this time you should make up flashcards on the following. I would be pleased to look them over to make sure you are on the right track.
alliteration caesura epic hero heroic tradition kenning oral tradition unstressed syllable () rime-maker rhythm scop stressed syllable (/)

Focus 3:


We can tell a lot about a culture by paying close attention to the values implied in the culture and poetry of a people. What do you think people of the future will think about the values implied in the popular music and movies of today? We know from the remnants of AngloSaxon literature that these people highly prized the following: a heroic tradition endurance courage generosity and loyalty fair Play love of Fame learning fatalism (resignation to Wyrd) the recent conversion to Christianity

Frances Kelsey Secondary Mrs. M. Carmichael

Last printed 04/02/2009 1:47:00 PM

A. Read the introductory material and the excerpts from Beowulf, translated by Burton Raffel, in Adventures in Literature, beginning on page 12. B. Read Literary Elements on page 30 of Adventures in Literature.

Keep in mind the following key features of Anglo-Saxon poetry: oral in tradition (sung by scops in the mead hall) no rhyme rhythmic 4 beat line a caesura (or break mid-line) kennings (metaphorical phrase or compound word) alliteration somber tone larger than life hero stately diction and speeches traditional scenes - voyage, banquet, boast, battle, funeral

Beowulf has all these features, including many basic ingredients of epic poetry:

This poem is pagan in origin but was written down by an Anglo-Saxon Christian; it is dark, violent, heroic and fatalistic. Although an Anglo-Saxon (Old English) poem, its setting is mainly in Denmark and begins in Herot, the mead hall of King Hrothgar. Later, it moves to Geatland (Sweden).

Activity 1.2 (continued): Questions

B: Answer questions 2-2 to 2-24 at the end of this Learning Guide.

Activity 1.3: (continued) Flashcards

C: Create 6 content flashcards with significant quotes from Beowulf. Write the quote on one side of the card, and the author and the name of the text (Beowulf) on the other. You should include: 1.1. a quote that shows the Christian influence 1.2. a quote that shows the pagan influence 1.3. a quote that shows the character of Grendel 1.4. a quote that shows the character of Beowulf 1.5. a quote that suggests the conflict 1.6. a quote that shows the style or mood of Beowulf 1.7. any other quotes you think are significant

Literature 12

LG 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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You will use these flashcards to prepare for the provincial exam, where you will have to identify quotes from this course (provide the title or author). D: Create a flashcard on each of the following terms with a definition and an example from Beowulf. allusion aphorism characterization conflict foreshadowing image imagery irony metaphor omniscient point of view personification point of view setting symbol

Activity 1.3.

Beowulf Sight Passage

The excerpt and questions in the Beowulf Hand in Exercise appeared on the June, 2002 Literature 12 exam. Complete the questions and paragraph and hand it in.

Activity 1.4.

Outline an Essay

Write an outline on ONE of the following topics. These topics both appeared as exam questions when students were required to write a total of six essays on their exams! For each point you make, be sure to include a quote or specific reference, and write the line numbers in round brackets at the end of each line. Remember that you will probably not be able to write your introduction and your conclusion until you have found your content. I know the trick of writing he essay and then pulling the outline off of it, but I really want you to have the experience of legitimately working from an outline, so I would like you to get your outline initialled before you write your essay. A: By specific reference to the selection from Beowulf, identify two ways in which the epic Beowulf displays heroic actions. B: With specific reference to Beowulf, show two Anglo-Saxon values that are demonstrated by Beowulfs actions and comments. C: With reference to both The Seafarer AND Beowulf, show that life was not easy during Anglo-Saxon times.

Activity 1.5.

Write an Essay

Choose ONE of the topics you have outlined above and write it as a full essay. Remember the following: o provide a cover page that has your name, the name and number of this learning guide, the date you completed it, and the name of this course. You may use the same cover sheet for both assignments, but the title of both should appear on the cover sheet. write in blue or black ink, or type your outline. If you type, use a standard font. provide a title for each assignment. double space
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o o o

Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

o o

indent the first line of each paragraph (and have more than one paragraph please!!) mention the name of the text you are discussing (Beowulf) in the first paragraph. (Usually you would mention the author too, but since we dont know who exactly wrote Beowulf down, let alone composed it well, lets leave that part out). cite your sources in-text in the outline itself with a page number only, in brackets, placed before the period of the sentence the quote is in, or just after the quotation, like this (57), provide a list of works cited in proper format. We will go over this in class, but you might want to note that I use proper format at the beginning of each learning guide, so for this learning guide you can simply copy it.

Activity 1.6.


When you have handed in all of the activities for this learning guide, you might like to try the self quiz for Learning Guide 1. It is made up of questions on Beowulf from former provincial exams, so you can get some idea of what exam questions are like. It can be found under Courses and Literature 12 on the Frances Kelsey Web Site. This quiz is not for marks..

Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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Name: ___________________________________

Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

Focus 1:

The Anglo-Saxons

Give the dates included in the Anglo-Saxon Period, and explain why the England of this period was largely a military society.


What common traits and ideals did the Anglo-Saxons share?


What indicates that the Anglo-Saxons prized beauty and learning as well as bravery and strength?


What dominant characteristics of Anglo-Saxon poetry are due to its oral tradition?


Explain the role of the Anglo-Saxon scop.


What event brought the Anglo-Saxon period to a close?

Focus 2:

The Seafarer

What is a rime-giver? Give an example from The Seafarer, other than the one used in the learning guide.


What is parallelism, in literary terms? Give an example from The Seafarer, other than the one used in the learning guide.

Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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Name: ___________________________________


What is a kenning? Give an example from The Seafarer, other than the one used in the learning guide.


The Seafarer is a poem of great contrasts. Cite one positive and one negative view of the seafaring life shown in the poem.

Focus 3:


What contrasting characteristics are found in the epic Beowulf?


When was Beowulf most likely composed? When did its events probably take place?


Why is the poems tone sombre?


Explain Grendels nature as it is illustrated by the following items: a) his ancestry

b) his isolation

c) his motives for coming to Hrothgars battle hall

d) the part of nature with which he is associated

Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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Name: ___________________________________


How long does the monsters reign of terror last, and how is it broken?


Explain what motivates Beowulf to help the Danes.


Reread lines 250 326, in which Beowulf answers Unferths charge. What do these lines reveal about Beowulf, and the ideal Anglo-Saxon hero?


What happens when Grendel enters the hall that Beowulf and his men have inhabited?


Locate five adjectives or adverbs in lines 363 423 which are used to describe Grendel before the battle, and five in lines 458 504 which describe the monster after the battle. Study both lists, and comment on the change in Grendel that these lists imply. a) before:

b) after:

c) change:

3-10: What happens to Beowulf after he slays Grendel?

3-11: Describe Beowulfs funeral and memorial.

3-12: Explain how the following lines illustrate the use of kennings, alliteration, and caesura. That shepherd of evil, guardian of crime,
Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf page 10

Name: ___________________________________

Knew at once that nowhere on earth Had he met a man whose hands were harder. . . a) kennings:

b) alliteration:

c) caesura

3-13: Anglo-Saxon society had only recently converted to Christianity, and still had strong pagan influences. Find an example from the poem to support this statement.

Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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Name: ________________________________

Beowulf Hand in Exercise: excerpt from Beowulf

The Last Battle And Beowulf uttered his final boast: Ive never known fear, as a youth I fought In endless battles. I am old, now, But I will fight again, seek fame still, 5 If the dragon hiding in his tower dares To face me. The Geats Great prince stood firm, unmoving, prepared Behind his high shield, waiting in his shining 10 Armor. The monster came quickly toward him, Pouring out fire and smoke, hurrying To its fate. Flames beat at the iron Shield, and for a time it held, protected Beowulf as hed planned; then it began to melt, 15 And for the first time in his life that famous prince Fought with fate against him, with glory Denied him. He knew it, but he raised his sword And struck at the dragons scaly hide. The ancient blade broke, bit into 20 The monsters skin, drew blood, but cracked And failed him before it went deep enough, helped him Less than he needed. The dragon leaped With pain, thrashed and beat at him, spouting Murderous flames, spreading them everywhere. 25 And the Geats ring-giver did not boast of glorious Victories in other wars: his weapon Had failed him, deserted him, now when he needed it Most, that excellent sword. Edgethos Famous son stared at death, 30 Unwilling to leave this world, to exchange it For a dwelling in some distant placea journey Into darkness that all men must make, as death Ends their few brief hours on earth. 35 Quickly, the dragon came at him, encouraged As Beowulf fell back; its breath flared, And he suffered, wrapped around in swirling Flamesa king, before, but now A beaten warrior. None of his comrades Came to him, helped him, his brave and noble 40 Followers; they ran for their lives, fled Deep in a wood. And only one of them Remained, stood there, miserable, remembering, As a good man must, what kinship should mean.
Literature 12 LG 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf page 12

Name: ___________________________________

Multiple Choice Identify the choice that best completes the statement or answers the question.

1. And for the first time in his life that famous prince (line 15) This line illustrates the use of A. simile. B. aphorism. C. metaphor. D. alliteration. 2. Beowulf first learns that fate is against him when A. his iron shield begins to melt. B. he realizes that he boasts too much. C. none of his men comes to help him. D. he sees the enormous size of the dragon. 3. Geats ring-giver (line 25) is an example of A. kenning. B. caesura. C. paradox. D. oxymoron. 4. The tone of the lines his brave and noble / Followers (lines 3940) is A. ironic. B. joyful. C. elegiac. D. humorous. 5. At the end of the excerpt, Beowulf is A. betrayed. B. cowardly. C. confident. D. invincible. Paragraph Answer: INSTRUCTIONS: In paragraph form, using approximately 150 words, respond to the following question. Write your answer in ink. 2. With specific reference to the passage, show that the hero Beowulf becomes vulnerable. (10 marks)

Questions for Learning Guide 1: The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

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