Prepare to Read (p. 36)
The Stuff of Legends
Forging the Epic
A Guide to Life
It is a familiar scene: A brave hero battles his
archenemy, an evildoer who will stop at nothing to win. The theme of
hero and villain goes back more than twelve hundred years, to a
time when Anglo-Saxon storytellers sang of the battles of Beowulf,
the legendary warrior.
*Keep a list of examples and
textual evidence that proves
Beowulf is an epic hero.
Journal / Do Now Question Prompts – to be assigned and discussed
1. What is a hero? Explain your definition and give examples.
2. What is courage? How would most people today define courage?
3. What qualities do you believe a good leader should possess? Discuss leadership
in our society. Name some modern leaders.
What are the characteristics of contemporary leaders? What do we admire about
4. What does it mean to be loyal? Tell about a time you were loyal or someone was
loyal to you.
5. Why is a reputation important? What factors influence a person’s reputation?
6. Why is generosity important? What does it mean to be generous? Write about or
discuss the most generous person you know.
Remember: When reading Beowulf and other poetry, do not stop at the end of each line; this results in choppy lines
and will inhibit your comprehension of the text. Read to the punctuation mark, and respond appropriately.
Example - The text as it appears:
Then, when darkness had dropped, Grendel
Went up to Herot, wondering what the warriors
Would do in that hall when their drinking was done.
He found them sprawled in sleep, suspecting
Nothing, their dreams undisturbed. The monster’s
Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws;
He slipped through the door and there in the silence …
The text as it should be read:
Then, when darkness had dropped, Grendel / Went up to Herot, wondering what the warriors / Would do in that hall when their drinking was done.
He found them sprawled in sleep, suspecting / Nothing, their dreams undisturbed.
The monster’s / Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws; / He slipped through the door and there in the silence …
(/) is used to indicate line breaks
when quoting multiple lines from a poem or play .
The Wrath of Grendel
The Wrath of Grendel
What does the story of Grendel’s origins suggest about the beliefs of Anglo-Saxon culture?
What does Grendel resent about Hrothgar and his men?
Paraphrase – What are the main ideas in the sentences in lines 34-40?
Literary Analysis – Terrorized by Grendel, Hrothgar and his followers face “Twelve winters of grief.” How doe
the length of their suffering increase the epic feeling of this tale?
The Coming of Beowulf
1. Why do the Danes flee Herot at night?
2. An epic hero embodies the values and the ideals of the culture that produces him. On the
basis of Beowulf’s description (lines 109-122), what qualities do you think were valued by
3. Paraphrase lines 125-131.
4. Literary Analysis – How do word choice and other stylistic features of the watchman’s
speech add a serious, epic tone to his question (lines 151-171)?
5. Literary Analysis – What does Beowulf’s way of identifying himself suggest about the
values of a warrior culture (lines 173-179)?
6. Literary Analysis – How do Beowulf’s boasts of great deeds and his announcement of his
plan establish him as a hero?
The Battle with Grendel
Line 317: Use context clues to define bolted.
Literary Analysis – How do the “renaming” of Grendel in line 325 emphasize the
weighty significance of the battle that is about to begin?
Consider Grendel’s recognition that he is feuding with God (p. 48). How might this
change his perspective?
The Monsters’ Lair
How does Beowulf’s battle with Grendel end?
The Battle with Grendel’s Mother
Who is Edgetho’s brave son?
Who is Hrunting?
Paraphrase the sentence describing the combat in lines 498-502.
Lines 527-533 underscore the pagan-Christian blend in this poem. The
Christian God is said to give Beowulf _______________, and yet the sword Beowulf
finds on the wall was “_________________” with the _____________ of giants.
How does Beowulf dishonor the corpse of Grendel for his evil deeds against
Hrothgar and his men?
The Last Battle
Literary Analysis – What does Beowulf’s speech in lines 630-649 suggest to
you about Anglo-Saxon values?
Literary Analysis – What do lines 717-741 reveal about the values of warrior
Literary Analysis – According to Wiglaf, what is Beowulf’s relationship with his
followers like (lines 745-760)? Why, as it says in line 744, is this speech what these
Literary Analysis – What does Wiglaf’s decision suggest about the way in
which a legendary hero can inspire heroism in others?
Literary Analysis – In Beowulf’s death scene, what is shown about the importance i
warrior culture of the commemoration of individuals after death?
What is Beowulf’s last request?
Thinking About the Selection
#4 What does Beowulf's speech in lines 246-255 show about how he defines his
identify? Although Beowulf is brave and Grendel is spiteful, both might be said to act
out of pride. Explain.
OPEN-ENDED QUESTION / RACE RESPONSE
Beowulf is an epic tale influenced by both pagan and Christian traditions.
·Identify an example from the epic in which the memory of Beowulf's deeds inspires
·Do you think Beowulf's deeds make him a good role model?.
Use details from the text to support your response.