Monday, August 27, 2012

Beowulf Comprehension Questions

1.Realize that this prologue introduces the Danes, not Beowulf or his people the Geats. What was unusual about the way Shield came to be ruler of the Danes? What was his funeral like? What relation is Hrothgar to Shield?
What was unusual about the way Shield became ruler is that he was abandoned as a baby and became such a successful king. His funeral was a grand and majestic one; it was on a ship at sea and he was surrounded by weapons and vast treasure with a gold woven banner. Hrothgar is Shield's great great grandson.

[Heorot is Attacked] (lines 86-188, pp. 34-36)

1.What magnificent work did Hrothgar undertake? Who attacked it, and with what result? How long did the attacks last? What was the response of the Danes?
The magnificent work that Hrothgar undertook was building Herot, a spectacular mead hall for feasts and celebrations. A monster named Grendel attacked it and ate the men. The attacks continued every night until the danes decided to all flee in order to save their lives.

[The Hero Comes to Heorot] (lines 189-490, pp. 36-42)

1. What does Beowulf do when he hears of Hrothgar's problems with Grendel?
When Beowulf hears of Hrothgar's problems, Beowulf creates a group of his strongest soldiers and sets off from Geat to kill Grendel.

2. Whom do the Geats first meet when they arrive in Denmark? What does he do, and what do they do?
When the Geats first arrive in Denmark, they find a Danish watcher who was patrolling the cliffs. He inquires why they have arrived on the shores on Denmark in armor and with weapons so openly and Beowulf responded by declaring his intentions of slaying Grendel. Afterwards, the watchman leads them to King Hrothgar.

3. They next meet Hrothgar's herald. Who is he? What does he tell them? What does he tell Hrothgar? What does Hrothgar respond? Are you surprised that Hrothgar knows Beowulf so well?
Hrothgars' herald is Wulfgar, a messenger. He asks them of their name and kin and that he will tell Hrothgar of their request. He told Hrothgar that the Geats have traveled from across the ocean to be able to "have speech at will". Hrothgar responds by saying he knew Ecgtheow and Beowulf as a boy. I am not surprised he knew Beowulf so well, as one is not going to forget somebody who supposedly has a grasp equal to thirty men.

4.What does Beowulf tell Hrothgar when he enters? What did Hrothgar do for Beowulf's father?
When Beowulf enters, he told Hrothgar that he heard about Grendel's attacks and Herot is now empty because of the beast that comes at night. Beowulf also boasted about his abilities and his achievements. Hrothgar told Beowulf that his father sought sanctuary after Ecgtheow killed Heathloaf, so Hrothgar made a treaty with them by giving them treasure.

[Feast at Heorot] (lines 491-661, pp. 42-46)

1. What does Unferth accuse Beowulf of? How does Beowulf answer him? How is this episode relevant to the poem as a whole? What does Beowulf accuse Unferth of?
The whole controversy between Beowulf and Unferth is that Unferth is jealous and knows that Beowulf is much stronger then he is which does not please him. He brings up an old competition and tells Beowulf that if he thinks he will kill Grendel that he is wrong. Beowulf however responds with great confidence and tells Unfreth about his accomplishments and the exact details about that incident Unfreth had brought up about the sea leaving Unfreth in pure embarrassment. This is relevant to the story because we don't know exactly who is right and the details since one is egotistical and the other one was drunk.
2. What is Queen Wealhtheow doing during the feasting?
Queen Wealhtheow is passing around the goblet with the alcohol for the guests and thanking God for the fact that Beowulf is there to save the people.

[The Fight with Grendel] (lines 662-835, pp. 46-49)

1.Heroic poetry normally has a scene in which the hero arms for battle. What is different about Beowulf's preparations for his fight with Grendel?
Beowulf is different than other heroes when preparing for battle because instead of getting his weapons ready, he has decided to use nothing but his own hands to slay the beast.

2.What happens when Grendel enters Heorot? How does Beowulf fight with him? What happens when Grendel tries to leave? Does Grendel escape? What does he leave behind?
When Grendel enters Herot, he eats one of the men and when attempting to do the same with Beowulf, Beowulf grabs Grendel, who now realizes Beowulf is not a man of ordinary strength. Therefore, Grendel attempts to flee, but Beowulf was able to rip his arm off and kill him.

1.When the Danes and Geats return from following Grendel's tracks to the mere, someone sings in Beowulf's presence, comparing him to Sigemund and saying that he was not like Heremod (lines 883-914). How is Beowulf like Sigemund? How is he not like Heremod? (Be alert for inserted stories such as this one. Beowulf contains many of them, most much more complex that this one.)
Beowulf is like Sigemund because he is also a great warrior that has achieved a heroic victory by slaying a horrible monster. Beowulf is not like Heremond because Beowulf protects his people and is unselfish.

2.How does Hrothgar respond to Beowulf's deed? What does he offer to do for him? What does Unferth have to say now?
He responds with joy, gratitude, and generosity. He says that Beowulf is like a son to him and gives him treasure. Unferth was proven wrong in his attempts to discredit Beowulf.

3.The singer sings of Finn during the feasting (lines 1070-1158). The exact details of the Finn story are not clear, but in general, what happens? What does it suggest about the wisdom of using a woman as bride to heal enmity between tribes?
The son of the bride ad the brides brother (the Danish kind) die in a fight with Finn. It suggests that using a bride to heal enmity between two tribes may not be the best decision.

4.When the feasting resumes, what does Wealhtheow ask Hrothgar not to do?
Wealhtheow asks Hrothgar not to give Beowulf the throne.

5.Wealhtheow gives Beowulf a large, broad necklace. What later happens to it? What does Wealhtheow ask Beowulf to do?
Wealhtheow asks Beowulf to help her sons if they ever need it.

6.Why do so many men remain in the beer hall to sleep? Why is it a mistake?
They remain in the beer hall to sleep because they are drunk and believe that there is no more danger now that Grendel is dead.

BEOWULF AND GRENDEL'S MOTHER (lines 1251-2199, pp. 60-79)

[Another Attack] (lines 1251-1382, pp. 60-62)

1.Why has Grendel's mother come to Heorot? Is it the same reason Grendel had?
Grendels mother came to Herot to take revenge for her sons death.and take a man. So, no it is not the same reason.

2.What is Hrothgar's response? Whom has Grendel's mother killed?
Hrothgar was mourning, for Grendels mother had killed one of her closest friends

3.What sort of place is the mere?
The mere is a dark bottomless lake.

[Beowulf Fights Grendel's Mother] (lines 1383-1650, pp. 63-68)

1.How does Beowulf tell Hrothgar to respond?
Beowulf tells Hrothgar that that it is better to avenge his friends death rather than mourn.

2.What happens at the mere before Beowulf enters it?
The water boils with blood and sea serpents are on the shore.

3.How does Beowulf prepare for the battle? What sword does he take with him?
Beowulf prepares for the battle by putting on his armor and weapons. He takes with him Unferths sword, Hrunting, a sword to have never failed and was passed down in Unferth's family

4.What happens when Beowulf enters the mere? What is surprising about where Grendel and his mother live in the mere?
When Beowulf enters the mere, sea serpents and Grendel's mother try to attack him. It is surprising because none of the monsters can hurt him in the water, except for the cave she lives in.

5.What happens to the sword Beowulf borrowed from Unferth?
The sword Beowulf borrows from Unferth broke upon contact with Grendel's mother.

6.At one point Beowulf is on the floor, with Grendel's mother sitting on him and drawing her knife. How does Beowulf escape?
Beowulf escapes because his mail protected him from the blow.

7.How does Beowulf kill Grendel's mother? What weapon does he use? What happens when she dies? What does Beowulf take with him from her home? What happens to the sword he used to kill her?
Beowulf notices and uses an enchanted sword hung on the wall. He escapes by drawing the unnaturally heavy sword built by giants and slicing Grendel's mothers neck with it. When she died, the cave burned with light. The sword melted so that the hilt was all that was left.

8.What happens when Beowulf returns to the surface? Did his men expect him to return?
When Beowulf returned to the surface, he found his men waiting, but none of the Danish. It is clear that the Geats were skeptical of his return, so they were pleasantly surprised.

[Further Celebration at Heorot] (lines 1651-1798, pp. 68-71)

1.What does Beowulf give to Hrothgar?
He gives Grendel's head and sword hilt.

2.What message does Hrothgar have for Beowulf? What and why does he tell us about Heremod? Why and how did Heremod die? What lesson does Hrothgar teach with the Heremod example?
Hrothgars message to Beowulf is to not become too proud because that may take down even the strongest warrior.

3.What does Beowulf give to Unferth as he leaves?
The sword he lent him with thanks, even though it broke.

[Beowulf Returns Home] (lines 1799-2199, pp. 71-79)

1.What future does Hrothgar predict for Beowulf?
Hrothgar predicts a future for Beowulf as a great king.

2.Who is Hygd and why is she not like Modthryth?
Hygd is the Geat's queen and she is not like Modthryth, the other queen, because Hygd is a good queen.

3.Beowulf reports to Hygelac that Hrothgar may marry his daughter Freawaru to Ingeld. Why does he plan to do that? What does Beowulf expect the result will be? (Remember the Finn story, lines 1070-1158.) How does Beowulf think the peace will be broken? Is this the type of report we expected from the hero Beowulf, or are we seeing a new side of him?
Hrothgar wants to wed his daughter Freawaru to Ingeld to end a feud between two clans. Beowulf, on the other hand, does not expect this to work because he thinks the peace will be broken when a Heatho-Bard sees a Dane wearing a sword won by a Heatho-Bard and rekindle the feud. This pessimism is not what you would expect from Beowulf since he is always so optimistic and boastful.

4.How does Beowulf report about his own adventures? Does he report accurately?
Beowulf reports about his own adventures in a boastful, inaccurate manner.

5.What does Beowulf do with the treasure he was given? What does Hygelac give him?
Beowulf gave Hygelac his treasure. Hygelac gives Beowulf land, a hall, a magnificient sword, and a throne.

BEOWULF AND THE DRAGON (lines 2200-3182, pp. 79-99)

[The Dragon Wakes] (lines 2200-2509, pp. 79-86)

1.How much later does Part 2 take place? What kings have died in the meanwhile? What danger now exists?
Part 2 takes place 50 years later and in that period, Hygelac and his son Heardred died. The danger that now exists is a dragon that is attacking Beowulf's kingdom.

2.Why is the dragon angry? Why did the man take a cup? How did the treasure come to be there in the first place? (The speech of the lone survivor, the one who put the gold in the barrow, is in a typically Old English elegiac tone.
The dragon is angry because a slave stole a cup from his treasure. The man took a cup because he was a poor slave. The treasure came to be there in the first place because a man long ago kept his treasure there because it was of no use to him.

3.What did the dragon destroy that evening?
The dragon burned Beowulf's mead-hall.

4.Why does Beowulf think his home was burnt? Why does he order a new shield? How will he fight this battle? What will happen to him?
Beowulf thinks his home was burnt because he must have offended God in some way. He orders a new shield made of iron instead of wood so it won't catch on fire. Beowulf will fight the battle.

5.How did Hygelac die? (The description in lines 2354-2379 begins one of several versions of Geatish history and Hygelac's death we will get.) What did Beowulf do after Hygelac's death? What happened when he returned home? Did he accept Hygd's offer to become king?
Hygelac was killed by the Frankish king in battle. After Hygelac's death, Beowulf killed the Frankish king. After he returned home, Hygd offered Beowulf to become king, which he refused in loyalty to his young cousin.

6. What happened to Hygelac's son Heardred? (That's the story in lines 2380-2390.) How did Beowulf plan to revenge Heardred's death (lines 2391-2396)?
Heardred was killed by the Sweedish and Beowulf took revenge upon them for Heardred's death.

7.How many men accompany Beowulf as he goes to meet the dragon?
Eleven men.

8.What happened to Hygelac's oldest brother Herebeald? Who killed him? What did this do to his father King Hrethel? (This passage, lines 2425-2509, is the second account of Geatish history and of the death of Hygelac.) What happened between the Swedes and Geats after Hrethel's death? What happened to Haethcyn? How die Beowulf revenge Hygelac's death?
Herebeald was killed accidentally with an arrow by Haethcyn. King Hrethel died from grief because of this event. Haethcyn became king when Hrethel died, but was killed in battle against the Swedes.

[Beowulf Attacks the Dragon] (lines 2510-2820, pp. 86-92)

1.What does Beowulf tell his companions to do?
To wait for him.

2.What happens the first time Beowulf and the dragon fight? What do his companions do? How is Wiglaf different? What does he tell the others? What does he then do?

Only when Beowulf and the dragons fought, the sword broke and Beowulf faced death. Beowulf's companions fled in fear, betraying Beowulf and their people. Wiglaf was different because he stayed and fought for his king. He told the others that they were all unfaithful cowards. He then proceeded to promise Beowulf he would stay and fight with him, which he did until the dragon was slain.

3.What happens the second time Beowulf meets the dragon? What happens to Beowulf? Who kills the dragon?
The second time Beowulf fought the dragon, Wiglaf assisted him. Beowulf became mortally wounded but was able to kill the dragon.

4.What does the dying Beowulf ask Wiglaf to do? What happens when Beowulf sees the gold? How does Beowulf want to be buried?
The dying Beowulf asks Wiglaf to bring him the treasure to know he had won. He wanted to be buried in a tomb high on the piece of land so the tower may be seen from there.

[Beowulf's Funeral] (lines 2821-3182, pp. 92-99)

1.What happens when the companions return? What does Wiglaf say to him? What does he expect will happen in the future?
When the companions return, Wiglaf tries to revive. Wiglaf is angry and tells them that they were disloyal oath-breakers and that he expects will have their land taken away once the nobles hear of their actions.

2.What does the messenger tell the city? (This passage, lines 2900-3027, is the third account of the history of the Geats and the death of Hygelac. These are the enemies that will attack the Geats when they learn of Beowulf's death.) What happened overnight in Ravenswood after Ongentheow killed Haethcyn? What happened the next morning? What happened to Ongentheow? What does the messenger say to do with the gold? What is the final image (animal) of the messenger's speech?
The messenger tells the city of Beowulf's death and his predictions that without Beowulf, there would be an unfortunate future for the Geats with war.

3. What does Wiglaf tell the crowd that comes to see the dragon and Beowulf?
Wiglaf tells the crows that had come to see Beowulf and the dragon that he sees a bleak future.

4.What happens to the dragon?
The dragon got pushed into the sea by Wiglaf and others.

5.What happens during and after the funeral celebration?
During the funeral celebration, the Geats cry and mourn for their lost king. They put the ashes of Beowulf and the dragon's treasures inside under the sand so nobody could find them. The people were uncertain afterwards of their future with their mighty leader gone.

6.What did the Geats say about Beowulf in the last three lines of the poem? Are these the terms one would expect to be used to describe a military hero?
In the last three lines of the poem, they say that Beowulf lived like no prince or man and was most deserving of all the praise. It could be used to describe a military hero, although this praise seems too grand for anybody other than royalty.

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