quick summary of beowulf

quick summary of beowulf

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King Hrothgar of Denmark, a descendant of the great king Shield Sheafson, enjoys a prosperous and successful reign. He builds a great mead-hall, called Heorot, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by the scops, or bards. But the jubilant noise from Heorot angers Grendel, a horrible demon who lives in the swamplands of Hrothgar’s kingdom. Grendel terrorizes the Danes every night, killing them and defeating their efforts to fight back. The Danes suffer many years of fear, danger, and death at the hands of Grendel. Eventually, however, a young Geatish warrior named Beowulf hears of Hrothgar’s plight. Inspired by the challenge, Beowulf sails to Denmark with a small company of men, determined to defeat Grendel.

Hrothgar, who had once done a great favor for Beowulf’s father Ecgtheow, accepts Beowulf’s offer to fight Grendel and holds a feast in the hero’s honor. During the feast, an envious Dane named Unferth taunts Beowulf and accuses him of being unworthy of his reputation. Beowulf responds with a boastful description of some of his past accomplishments. His confidence cheers the Danish warriors, and the feast lasts merrily into the night. At last, however, Grendel arrives. Beowulf fights him unarmed, proving himself stronger than the demon, who is terrified. As Grendel struggles to escape, Beowulf tears the monster’s arm off. Mortally wounded, Grendel slinks back into the swamp to die. The severed arm is hung high in the mead-hall as a trophy of victory.

Overjoyed, Hrothgar showers Beowulf with gifts and treasure at a feast in his honor. Songs are sung in praise of Beowulf, and the celebration lasts late into the night. But another threat is approaching. Grendel’s mother, a swamp-hag who lives in a desolate lake, comes to Heorot seeking revenge for her son’s death. She murders Aeschere, one of Hrothgar’s most trusted advisers, before slinking away. To avenge Aeschere’s death, the company travels to the murky swamp, where Beowulf dives into the water and fights Grendel’s mother in her underwater lair. He kills her with a sword forged for a giant, then, finding Grendel’s corpse, decapitates it and brings the head as a prize to Hrothgar. The Danish countryside is now purged of its treacherous monsters.

The Danes are again overjoyed, and Beowulf’s fame spreads across the kingdom. Beowulf departs after a sorrowful goodbye to Hrothgar, who has treated him like a son. He returns to Geatland, where he and his men are reunited with their king and queen, Hygelac and Hygd, to whom Beowulf recounts his adventures in Denmark. Beowulf then hands over most of his treasure to Hygelac, who, in turn, rewards him.

In time, Hygelac is killed in a war against the Shylfings, and, after Hygelac’s son dies, Beowulf ascends to the throne of the Geats. He rules wisely for fifty years, bringing prosperity to Geatland. When Beowulf is an old man, however, a thief disturbs a barrow, or mound, where a great dragon lies guarding a horde of treasure. Enraged, the dragon emerges from the barrow and begins unleashing fiery destruction upon the Geats. Sensing his own death approaching, Beowulf goes to fight the dragon. With the aid of Wiglaf, he succeeds in killing the beast, but at a heavy cost. The dragon bites Beowulf in the neck, and its fiery venom kills him moments after their encounter. The Geats fear that their enemies will attack them now that Beowulf is dead. According to Beowulf’s wishes, they burn their departed king’s body on a huge funeral pyre and then bury him with a massive treasure in a barrow overlooking the sea.

BEOWULF Part I Recap. Quick Summary of Last Section ● Beowulf, his Geatish warriors, and some of Hrothgar's Danish warriors track Grendel's mother to.

Published byRachel Jones Modified about 1 year ago

Presentation on theme: "BEOWULF Part I Recap. Quick Summary of Last Section ● Beowulf, his Geatish warriors, and some of Hrothgar's Danish warriors track Grendel's mother to."— Presentation transcript:

1 BEOWULF Part I Recap

2 Quick Summary of Last Section ● Beowulf, his Geatish warriors, and some of Hrothgar's Danish warriors track Grendel's mother to the mere – a swamp. ● Hrothgar, Beowulf, and their followers ride out, tracking Grendel's mother across the moors. She's pretty easy to follow, since she's dragging Aeschere's corpse behind her.

3 ● Beowulf dives into the lake and finds the cave, where he takes on Grendel's mother in another one-on-one battle. ● Seizing a nearby sword from Grendel's mother's stash of treasure, he slays her, even though her poisonous demon blood melts the blade.

4 ● When Beowulf returns to the surface, carrying the sword hilt and Grendel's severed head, the Danish warriors have given him up for dead, but his own Geatish followers are still waiting patiently. ● When everyone sees that Beowulf has survived this second challenge, there's even more partying and gift-giving.

5 It goes something like this.

6 Characters ● Beowulf – Protagonist. Geat. Epic hero. ● Fights the monster Grendel & Grendel’s mother. ● Beowulf’s boasts and encounters reveal him to be the strongest, ablest warrior around. In his youth, he personifies all of the best values of the heroic culture.

7 Values of the Heroic Culture ● Strength, courage, and loyalty in warriors ● Hospitality, generosity, and political skill in kings; ● Ceremoniousness in women ● Good reputation in all people.

8 CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EPIC HERO ● Epic hero - a larger-than-life hero who embodies the values of a particular society. ● Shows superhuman qualities ● On a quest for something of great value to him or his people. ● The villains that try to keep the hero from his quest are also superhuman ● The epic hero is often of mixed divine and human birth and so possesses human weaknesses. ● The divine world (the gods) interferes with the human world.

9 Beowulf as Epic Hero ● All epic heroes are not the same. Things that one culture admires might not be particularly esteemed by another culture. ● Beowulf was the epitome of heroism for the Anglo-Saxons; some of his traits would be disdained by modern readers. ● Beowulf exhibits traits of the epic hero: he takes on challenges that other aren't or won't. He places himself in grave danger for the good of others. He possesses superhuman strength.

10 Other Main Characters King Hrothgar – The king of the Danes. Hrothgar enjoys military success and prosperity until Grendel terrorizes his realm. A wise and aged ruler, he represents a different kind of leadership from that exhibited by the youthful warrior Beowulf. Father figure to Beowulf; a model for the kind of king that Beowulf becomes.

11 Grendel - A demon descended from Cain, Grendel preys on Hrothgar’s warriors in the king’s mead-hall, Heorot. Grendel’s mother - An unnamed swamp-hag; her terrorization of Heorot is explained by her desire for vengeance, a cultural imperative in Anglo-Saxon warrior culture.

12 Other Danes Wealhtheow- Hrothgar’s wife, the gracious queen of the Danes. Unferth - A Danish warrior who is jealous of Beowulf, Unferth is unable or unwilling to fight Grendel, proving himself inferior to Beowulf. Hrethric - Hrothgar’s elder son, Hrothmund - The second son of Hrothgar. Hrothulf - Hrothgar’s nephew Aeschere- Hrothgar’s trusted adviser; killed by Grendel's mother

13 Other Geats Hygelac - Beowulf’s uncle, king of the Geats Ecgtheow - Beowulf’s father, Hygelac’s brother- in-law, and Hrothgar’s friend. Ecgtheow is dead by the time the story begins.

14 Other Characters Mentioned King Heremod- An evil king of legend. The scop, or bard, at Heorot discusses King Heremod as a figure who contrasts greatly with Beowulf.

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King Hrothgar, the ruler of the Danes, is troubled by the rampages of a demon named Grendel. Every night, Grendel attacks King Hrothgar's wealthy mead-hall, Heorot, killing Danish warriors and sometimes even eating them.

Hrothgar was a great warrior in his time, but now he's an old king and can't seem to protect his people. Fortunately, a young Geat warrior named Beowulf travels to Heorot Hall from his own lands overseas to lend a helping hand—literally.

Unfortunately, Grendel has an overprotective mother who decides to avenge her son. While all the warriors are sleeping off the party, she attacks Heorot Hall. But when the warriors wake up, she panics and flees back to her lair, a cave underneath a nearby lake.

The poem begins with a brief genealogy of the Danes. Scyld Shefing was the first great king of the Danes, known for his ability to conquer enemies. Scyld becomes the great-grandfather of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes during the events of Beowulf. Hrothgar, like his ancestors before him, is a good king, and he wishes to celebrate his reign by building a grand hall called Heorot. Once the hall is finished, Hrothgar holds a large feast. The revelry attracts the attentions of the monster Grendel, who decides to attack during the night. In the morning, Hrothgar and his thanes discover the bloodshed and mourn the lost warriors. This begins Grendel's assault upon the Danes.

Twelve years pass. Eventually the news of Grendel's aggression on the Danes reaches the Geats, another tribe. A Geat thane, Beowulf, decides to help the Danes; he sails to the land of the Danes with his best warriors. Upon their arrival, Hrothgar's thane Wulfgar judges the Geats worthy enough to speak with Hrothgar. Hrothgar remembers when he helped Beowulf's father Ecgtheow settle a feud; thus, he welcomes Beowulf's help gladly.

Heorot is filled once again for a large feast in honor of Beowulf. During the feast, a thane named Unferth tries to get into a boasting match with Beowulf by accusing him of losing a swimming contest. Beowulf tells the story of his heroic victory in the contest, and the company celebrates his courage. During the height of the celebration, the Danish queen Wealhtheow comes forth, bearing the mead-cup. She presents it first to Hrothgar, then to the rest of the hall, and finally to Beowulf. As he receives the cup, Beowulf tells Wealhtheow that he will kill Grendel or be killed in Heorot. This simple declaration moves Wealhtheow and the Danes, and the revelry continues. Finally, everyone retires. Before he leaves, Hrothgar promises to give Beowulf everything if he can defeat Grendel. Beowulf says that he will leave God to judge the outcome. He and his thanes sleep in the hall as they wait for Grendel.

Eventually Grendel arrives at Heorot as usual, hungry for flesh. Beowulf watches carefully as Grendel eats one of his men. When Grendel reaches for Beowulf, Beowulf grabs Grendel's arm and doesn't let go. Grendel writhes about in pain as Beowulf grips him. He thrashes about, causing the hall to nearly collapse. Soon Grendel tears away, leaving his arm in Beowulf's grasp. He slinks back to his lair in the moors and dies.

The Danes, meanwhile, consider Beowulf as the greatest hero in Danish history. Hrothgar's minstrel sings songs of Beowulf and other great characters of the past, including Sigemund (who slew a dragon) and Heremod (who ruled his kingdom unwisely and was punished). In Heorot, Grendel's arm is nailed to the wall as a trophy. Hrothgar says that Beowulf will never lack for riches, and Beowulf graciously thanks him. The horses and men of the Geats are all richly adorned, in keeping with Hrothgar's wishes.

Another party is held to celebrate Beowulf's victory. Hrothgar's minstrel tells another story at the feast, the story of the Frisian slaughter. An ancient Danish king had a daughter named Hildeburh; he married her to a king of the Frisians. While Hnaef, Hildeburh's brother, visited his sister, the Frisians attacked the Danes, killing Hnaef and Hildeburh's son in the process. Hengest, the next leader of the Danes, desired vengeance, and in the spring, the Danes attacked the Frisians, killing their leader and taking Hildeburh back to Denmark.

After this story is told, Wealhtheow presents a necklace to Hrothgar while pleading with her brother-in-law Hrothulf to help her two young sons if they should ever need it. Next she presents many golden treasures to Beowulf, such as necklaces, cups, and rings. Soon the feast ends, and everyone sleeps peacefully.

In the night, Grendel's mother approaches the hall, wanting vengeance for her son. The warriors prepared for battle, leaving enough time for Grendel's mother to grab one of Hrothgar's counselors and run away. When Beowulf is summoned to the hall, he finds Hrothgar in mourning for his friend Aeschere. Hrothgar tells Beowulf where the creatures like Grendel live‹in a shadowy, fearful land within the moors.

Beowulf persuades Hrothgar to ride with him to the moors. When they reach the edge of the moors, Beowulf calls for his armor, takes a sword from Unferth, and dives into the lake. After a long time, Beowulf reaches the bottom of the lake, where Grendel's mother is waiting to attack. Beowulf swings his sword, but discovers that it cannot cut her, so he tosses it away. They then wrestle until Beowulf spies a large sword nearby. He grabs it by the hilt and swings‹killing Grendel's mother by slicing off her head. Still in a rage, Beowulf finds the dead Grendel in the lair and cuts off his head as a trophy.

As they wait, the Danes have given up all hope for Beowulf because he has been underwater for such a long time. They are shocked when Beowulf returns with Grendel's head and the hilt of the sword (which melted with the heat of Grendel's blood). They bear the hero and his booty back to Heorot, where another celebration takes place. Beowulf recounts his battle; Hrothgar praises him and gives him advice on being a king. A grand feast follows, and Beowulf is given more priceless treasures. The next morning, the Geats look forward to leaving Denmark. Before they leave, Beowulf promises aid for Hrothgar from the Danes. Hrothgar praises Beowulf and promises that their lands will have an alliance forever. As the Geats leave, Hrothgar finds himself wishing Beowulf would never leave.

The Geats return with much rejoicing to their homeland, where their king Hygelac and his queen Hygd greet them. In an aside, the narrator compares Hygd to the queen of the ancient Offa, who is not tamed until Offa comes to subjugate her. Beowulf tells his lord the events of his trip to Denmark. In the process, he tells another story that had previously been unmentioned. Hrothgar betrothed his daughter Freawaru to a prince of the Heathobards in order to settle an old feud. Beowulf speculates that someone will goad this Heathobard prince to take vengeance upon the Danes for all their past wrongs. Hygelac praises Beowulf for his bravery and gives him half the kingdom. They rule the kingdom together in peace and prosperity. Hygelac is killed in a battle soon after, so Beowulf becomes king of the Geats and rules the kingdom well.

In the fiftieth year of Beowulf's reign, a monster arises to terrorize the Geats. A treasure trove was left by an ancient civilization, which guarded it jealously until only one member of the race was left. After the last person's death, a fire-breathing dragon found the treasure and guarded it for three hundred years. One day, a slave stumbled upon the treasure and stole a cup as an offering to his lord. The dragon awakened to find something missing from his treasure, and began his rampage upon the Geats.

One day, Beowulf learns that this dragon has destroyed his own great hall. This attack sends him into deep thought. Soon he orders a shield to use for battle, but not without a heavy heart at what may happen to him. He recalls Hygelac's death in battle and his own narrow escape from this battle. He recalls a number of battles he has seen as he travels to the dragon's lair with eleven of his thanes. The servant who stole the cup leads them to the lair.

As they wait to attack the dragon, Beowulf recounts the Geat royal family's plight, in which Hygelac's oldest brothers killed each other and left their father to die of a broken heart. Beowulf says he served Hygelac well, and a sword (named Naegling) that he won while serving Hygelac will help him save the kingdom once again. Beowulf leads the charge to the dragon's cave. The shield protects him from the dragon's flames, but his men flee in fear, leaving only one man behind. This man is Wiglaf, Beowulf's kinsman through Ecgtheow. Wiglaf becomes angry, but swears that he will stay by Beowulf's side.

Just then the dragon rushes up to them. Beowulf and the dragon swing at each other three times, finally landing mortal blows upon each other the last time. The dragon is beheaded, but Beowulf is bitten and has a mortal poison from the dragon flowing through his body as a result. Wiglaf bathes his lord's body as Beowulf speaks on the treasure. He says that Wiglaf should inherit it as his kinsman; then he dies.

After his death, the cowards return, to be severely chastised by Wiglaf. He sends a messenger to tell the people of their king's death. The messenger envisions the joy of the Geats' enemies upon hearing of the death of Beowulf. He also says that no man shall ever have the treasure for which Beowulf fought. Wiglaf and Beowulf's thanes toss the dragon's body into the sea. They place the treasure inside a mound with Beowulf's body and mourn for "the ablest of all world-kings."

What is a short summary of "Beowulf"?

"Beowulf" is a poem that describes events that happen to Danish King Hrothgar and his great hall, Heorot. King Hrothgar and his people are plagued by Grendel, a monster who attacks Heorot every night to pillage and kill Hrothgar's men. Beowulf is a foreigner from Geatland who travels to aid King Hrothgar by protecting his people and his hall.

What is the summary of the story of "Beowulf"?

What is an example of how Beowulf displays bravery?

In the poem, Beowulf engages in combat with Grendel. Beowulf tears Grendel's arm off, and Grendel flees from Heorot into the wilderness where he dies. Grendel's mother finds out about the death of her son and seeks revenge. She goes to Heorot to avenge her son's death, but gets scared and goes into hiding in her lair. Beowulf and his army seek her out in her cave under the lake. Beowulf dives into the lake and slays Grendel's mother with a blade he took from Grendel's mother's treasure. He takes her head and the blade back to the surface.

Beowulf is honored as a hero. He returns to his home in Geatland where he eventually becomes King of the Geats. In the poem, Beowulf's final battle is with a dragon that attacks his people. He defeats the dragon but becomes mortally wounded in the process. The poem ends with Beowulf's burial and his people mourning the loss of their great king.

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