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Kristen Cassels 6-2-10 Beowulf Questions Instructions: Answer all of the questions below in complete sentences.

Give the page number or line numbers for your examples when appropriate to back up your explanation. Remember, the more you give me, the more I can give you! 1. Give a detailed description (followed by line numbers) of two different times where the characters refer to the importance of honor and reputation. Compare the culture todays view of honor and reputation. When reading the tale of Beowulf, I realized that the story is based on tales of honor and reputation. Beowulfs entire life is a reflection of these two things. At times I felt sorry for Beowulf being held to such high standards. The first subject that I want to address is reputation. It seems as though Beowulf was always held to a certain reputation. Beowulf being the hero that he is this would only come with the territory. A hero is only remembered by their reputation. Even before his death Beowulf wanted his reputation to live on forever. So before entering a battle with the fiery dragon he requests that Wiglaf have a tower built for him. ...Have the brave Geats build me a tomb, When the funeral flames have burned me, and build it Here, at the water's edge, high On this spit of land, so sailors can see This tower, and remember by name, and call it Beowulf's tower, and boats in the darkness And mist, crossing the sea, will know it. (823-830) So even as Beowulf ages he still feels the need to fight against evil. Though this eventually leads to his death he has too much honor to not enter this battle. There is a lot of foreshadowing in the story about doom ,death, and honor. The characters do not feel that death is futile end but an honorable one. Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.

For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end. Let whoever can win glory before death. When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark. (13841389)

So even here after Grendels mother kills Aeschere, Beowulf tells Hrothgar to not let his grief get the best of him and to honor Aesheres death. Todays view of honor and reputation are still a forefront for most cultures. Reputation and honor can be seen in sports, war, academics, and just about everywhere else there is a working society. Everyone wishes for their reputation to precede them in todays world. Honor can be seen mostly in families. People want their name or heritage to be honored. The relevance of honor and reputation are just as widespread today as they were in the past.

2. Give examples of lines that describe the conflict and tension between the warrior code and Christianity. The warrior code seems to trump Christianity morals. Although the warrior code never tells the characters how to morally act it seems as though they never break it. This can almost see comical since they are constantly defying medieval Christian morals. One example of such is seen when we are told that justice can only be had by, blood for blood. Thus Beowulf bore himself with valor. He was formidable in battle yet behaved with honour and took no advantage; never cut down a comrade who was drunk, kept his temper and, warrior that he was, watched and controlled his God-sent strength and his outstanding natural powers. (Lines 2177-83) The audience is being told that they must avenge ones death due to the warrior code but they are given the strength to do so by, God-sent strength. We see this struggle between the warrior code and Christianity again when Beowulf and his men are in the great Hrothgar's Mead-Hall fighting Grendel.
"Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend

Grendel who haunted the moors, the wild Marshes, and made his home in a hell. Not hell but hell on earth. He was spawned in that slime Of Cain, murderous creatures banished By God, punished forever for the crime Of Abel's death." (Lines 101-108)

The men "defend their lord's life". You can see the confusion of the characters between Christianity and the warrior code. Beowulf and the soldiers believe that they lord wanted them to slay Grendal. Again we turn back to the blood for blood solution. They believe that since Grendal killed 30 men that they are responsible for sending him to his final judgment. Where in Christianity only the lord can be the final judge. 3. Where does Beowulf have dialogue that speaks specifically about the warrior code and revenge? Sorrow not, wise warrior. It is better for a man to avenge his friend than much mourn." (45) Beowulf is speaking here to Hrothgar after the murder of Aeschere. He says for him not to be sad and to remember the importance of revenge as part of the warrior code.


Where and why is Beowulf compared to Christ the Savior? Christ is often portrayed as a hero/warrior that is fighting for his people. Beowulf lives this same comparison. Through describing events taking place in a pagan culture, the poet credits the Christian God and the Christian ethic for the triumph of good over evil. Time and time again though, this credit seems to be persevered through the character of Beowulf and not Christ. Hrothgar states that Beowulf's killing of Grendel was achieved "through the power of the Lord". This can be preserved that Beowulf is backed by God as Christ was.

5. What does the young Beowulf desire? What does the aged Hrothgar desire? What does Hrothgars long speech emphasize and how is it to be accomplished. Beowulf desires to be eternalized as a hero. Beowulf wishes for his great feats to precede him and live in tales for eternity. Hrothgar does wish for Beowulf to avenge his lands by defeating Grendal but Hrothgar also expresses the importance of the warrior code to Beowulf. Hrothgar breaks into a long speech of advice to Beowulf, highlighting the code of the heroic world and the repercussions if

one were to disregard this heroic set of laws. So Beowulf does live by the warrior code, even up until his own death. Through Hrothgars age we are given clues to his wise demeanor. Although Beowulf has the physical strength of 30 men, does he have the emotionally strength to fight off evils. I believe that Beowulf accomplished the same wisdom that Hrothgar expressed to him in his own death. In lines 2221-2311 after 50 years has passed and Beowulf has become king this seems to be legacy that Beowulf inadvertently achieved.

6. What is the name of the sword that Unferth gives Beowulf to fight the monster and why does he do it? "He [Unferth] did not of himself dare to risk his life under the warring waves, to engage his courage: there he lost his glory, his name for valor." (46) Unferth lends Beowulf his sword Hrunting. Unferth gives him his sword to fight Grendal's mother because he feels bad for always belittling Beowulf. Unferth also realizes that he in fact is not as brave as Beowulf. When Unferth gives Beowulf Hrunting, he no longer doubts his abilities as a warrior and loses his reputation as a great fighter.

7. Describe the 3 main parts or sections of the narrative (story) and identify which monsters correlate with them. Beowulf must battle 3 antagonists in the story. The entire epic tale is centered on these three battles. In the first section the reader is introduced to Beowulf. He is portrayed as a young warrior from Greatland that hears of Hrothgars troubles and seeks out to defend them. In this section Beowulf fights Grendal. This battle opens the long heroic tale of Beowulf.

In the second section Beowulf battles Grendals revenge seeking mother. After Grendals mother kills Aeschere. Beowulf seeks her out to kill her as well. This is where we see the warrior code first truly come into play. After a long under water battle Beowulf proves victorious. He returns to the mead where his heroic deeds are celebrated.

In the final act we see the fall of our beloved Hero and the warrior code. Though the soldiers had been taught to fight for their king, their fear leads to Beowulfs demise. In the final act he is fight the fiery dragon. When the soldiers see Beowulf wounded by the dragon they run away in fear.

Only one stays, the soldier Wiglaf. Wiglaf and Beowulf slay the dragon but Beowulf in the end dies from his injuries. His wish of living on as an immortal hero are granted when he I buried on a cliff overlooking the sea.

8. Who, from the bible, is Grendel descended from? What is the significance of that association? Grendal is a descendant from Cain. This signifies that like Cain, Grendal is cursed by God. Since he is a descendant of Cain his fate will ultimately be the same and he will also die by being murdered.

9. Describe some specific examples of the mead-hall motif. Why is the idea of sanctuary important? The mead-hall was built as a sanctuary for the soldiers. There are two mead-halls in Beowulf. There is Hrothgars great hall of Herot and Hygelacs hall in Greatland. Both of these halls provide sanctuary, food drink, and light for the soldiers. The idea of the soldiers having sanctuary is important because this was supposed to be a place of safety for the soldier. After returning from battle they had a place to relax and cut loose. This gave the soldiers a kinship to one another. They were also able to share battle stories and be rewarded for their heroic deeds.

10. Who gives the golden torque to Beowulf and why? After slaying Grendel, Beowulf receives a golden torque from Hrothgar and Wealhtheow, as a reward for doing so. Beowulf then later gives the golden torque to his king, Hygelac. Hygelac is wearing the golden torque when he dies. The golden torque is then returned to Beowulf. Beowulf is wearing it when he fights the dragon. Beowulf then gives it to Wiglaf just before he dies.

11. Describe Beowulfs armor. Who forged it? "His war-shirt, hand-fashioned, broad and well-worked, was to explore the mere: it knew how to cover his body-cave so that foe's grip might not harm his heart, or grasp of angry enemy his life. But the bright helmet guarded his head, one which was to stir up the lake-bottom, seek out the troubled water-made rich with gold, surrounded with splendid bands, as the weapon-smith had made it in far-off days, fashioned it wonderfully, set it about with boar-images so that thereafter no sword or battle-blade might bite into it." (45-46)

His armor was forged by Waylond the Smith. The armoring of a warrior was a very important ritual in pagan society. A very detailed description is given of Beowulf's armor. He has an impeccable quality to his suit of armor. His helmet had the image of a bore which gave him even more strength in battle. 12. By interpreting the symbols and motifs, what do you think the purpose of the story might be? Is it instructive? What universal themes stand out to you in this poem? (hints: good/evil, loyalty to family/ country(patriotism)/ friends, Christian values, tradition, safety, human nature.) Write a paragraph or two describing your interpretation of the meaning of the poem and what stands out to you the most.

Beowulf is a story that is centered on many themes. The ones that stand out the most to me are those of being a hero, morality, revenge and success. A Hero can transcend time and live on forever through tales and history. In the story of Beowulf we are constantly told tales of Beowulfs heroic battles and fearless feats. "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good." (34). Beowulf says this earlier in the story. He tells everyone at Hrothgar's court he is able to achieve great things because of his intent only to do good deeds, and also because he is so brave.

Beowulfs morality is sought through the warrior code more that his Christians ideals. Beowulf spends a majority of the story fighting blood for blood. His is taught the warrior code by Hrothgar and spends his life abiding by these rules.

Although he believes in morality Beowulf is certainly a revenge seeker as well. "I promise you this: she will not be lost under cover, not in the earth's bosom nor in the mountain woods nor at the bottom of the sea, go where she will." (45). With this pledge he promises Hrothgar that he will find Grendals mother and ultimately kill her. He feels as though if he does not follow through with the murder like the fiery dragon, then he will lose all honors and not be remembered as a hero.