what is the plot of beowulf

what is the plot of beowulf

The epic poem "Beowulf" follows the titular hero on his quest as he saves King Hrothgar's mead hall from the beast Grendel, defeats Grendel's mother, reigns as king and eventually dies gloriously in battle with a dragon. The story follows the archetypal hero's quest structure.

What are the characteristics of Grendel's mother in Beowulf?

How does Beowulf defeat Grendel?

What is an example of comitatus in "Beowulf"?

The story begins with the besieging of Hrothgar's mead hall by the beast Grendel. This state of affairs continues for years as Grendel attacks again and again, killing at will. Beowulf, king of the Geats, arrives and slays Grendel in a wrestling match. Grendel's demonic mother retaliates by kidnapping one of Hrothgar's Danes, but Beowulf pursues her into her lair beneath the water and kills her.

Beowulf returns to the land of the Geats. He becomes king there, succeeding his father, and fights in many wars before making peace at last. With his companion and retainer Wicglaf he reigns uneasily, but justly, until a thief awakens a dragon in the mountains and the beast emerges to burn the countryside and maraud in pursuit of revenge.

Beowulf overthrows and kills the dragon, but the act is his last and Wicglaf alone survives to bear word of the king's heroic death back to the Geats. The poem's ending is a melancholy meditation on the content of Beowulf's life and the ways in which he changed the world through his heroism.

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Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

King Hrothgar and the Danes are at the mercy of the marauding demon Grendel, who keeps attacking Heorot Hall.

Not only is this what's happening at the beginning, which should tip you off that it's the initial situation, it's also an obvious set-up. A wild demon attacking a defenseless group of people? It's time for a hero to come on the scene and put this to rights.

A Geatish warrior, Beowulf, throws his armor and weapons aside and fights the demon Grendel in a wrestling match to the death.

How much more obvious can a conflict get? We've got two guys in a no-holds-barred wrestling competition to the death. If that's not a conflict, we don't know what is. Beowulf isn't usually very subtle about these things.

Grendel's mother shows up to avenge the death of her son.

This is just the kind of frustrating thing that happens to you when you're a heroic Geatish warrior. Here you are, going all-out and wrestling a demon to the death, and just when you think you've won and you have a few minutes to get drunk and celebrate, the demon's mom comes along and gets her panties in a twist because you killed her kid. We love mothers, but they do seem to make things complicated sometimes.

Back home in Geatland, Beowulf must defend his people against a marauding dragon.

Just when you think Beowulf is going to live happily ever after, he has to face his greatest challenge yet: a fifty-foot-long firebreather. If anything screams "climactic battle scene," it's the arrival of a dragon.

Beowulf hangs out on the side of the dragon's barrow, recalling his past glories and wondering if he's going to die fighting the dragon.

If you're tempted to yell, "Just get on with it!" at this point, you're not the only one. Beowulf hangs out for several hundred lines, talking about his past glories and wondering if he's going to die while fighting the dragon. Still, it does help to build suspense. because it makes us wonder, too.

Beowulf is mortally wounded, but manages to kill the dragon and win its hoard of treasure.

It's a double-whammy: Beowulf dies, but so does the dragon. After that, it's obviously all downhill, so this is definitely the denouement.

The Geats give Beowulf a splendid funeral and prepare to be attacked by their neighbors.

Is anything more conclusive than a funeral? Beowulf is dead, and after mourning his death and celebrating his heroic deeds, the Geats look to the future. Of course, without his protection, it's a pretty bleak future.

Written by Kristine Tucker

"Beowulf" is an old English epic poem written by an anonymous author somewhere between the 8th and 11th centuries. The protagonist, Beowulf, must defeat three enemies -- a monster, the monster's mother and a dragon -- to prove his valiance, expert fighting skills and strength. Even though his initial victory over the monster, Grendel, is a heroic event, the climax centers around his defeat of Grendel's mother. This troublesome adversary proves more dangerous than the first.

The climax occurs when Beowulf tries to kill Grendel's mother with his sword, but it won't pierce her skin. He is forced to fight her with his bare hands. The two wrestle back and forth until Beowulf finds a huge, ornamental sword, made by the giants of the land. He hits her over the head with the sword and cuts her in half. The sword blade melts from her hot blood, but Beowulf takes Grendel's head, not the mother's, and the handle of the sword back to his home land to present to the king and his people.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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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.

2. He identifies the problem of the Danes

3. He speaks of his achievements – meaning his past defeats of monsters

“windy Cliffs, wolf-dense where water pours from the rocks”, “mist streams like black clouds”, “…groves of trees…covered with frozen spray, and wind down snakelike roots”, “snakelike roots that reach as far as the water and help keep it dark”, “that lake burns like a torch” , “no one knows its bottom, no wisdom reaches such depths” – explain how the lake is unknown, “A stag with great thorns…prefers to die on those shores, refuses to save its life”, “waves splash toward the sky, as dark as the air”, “the heavens weep”, “terrible home”

“God, who sent him victory, gave judgment For truth and right, Ruler of the Heavens…”

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