Beowulf Test – Kelley

archetype a pattern that appears in literature across cultures and is repeated through the ages; (a character, a plot, an image, or a setting)
theme the central idea or insight about human experience revealed in a work of literature; it is the idea the writer wishes to convey about the subject (most are implied)
alliteration the repetition of consonant sounds in words that are close to one another (it occurs most often at the beginning of words); for example, “rough and ready” or “baby blue”; it is an essential feature of Anglo-Saxon poetry
kenning in Anglo-Saxon poetry, a metaphorical phrase or compound word used to name a person, place, thing, or event indirectly; it indicates a person or thing by a characteristic or quality; like “whale-road” means sea, Grendel is referred to as a “shepherd of evil”, and Hrothgar is referred to as the ring-giver
Anglo-Saxon English has borrowed words from most of the world’s languages, but many words in our basic vocabulary come to us from _______________, or Old English.
Women _______________ had a lot of rights in the Anglo-Saxon society; for example, they inherited and held property. Christianity also offered opportunities for women; some women became powerful abbesses.
epic a long narrative poem that relates the great deeds of a larger-than-life hero who embodies the values of a particular society; most include elements of myth, legend, folklore, and history; a quest story on a grand scale; sometimes gods or other supernatural or fantastic beings take part in the action
Homer’s Odyssey and Beowulf What are two famous epics?
epic hero someone who undertakes a quest to achieve something of tremendous value to themselves or their society; the central figure in a long narrative that reflects the values and heroic ideals of a particular society
quests Most epic heroes undertake _______________ to achieve something of tremendous value to themselves or their society.
The epic tells of Beowulf, a Geat from Sweden, who crosses the sea to Denmark in a quest to rescue King Hrothgar’s people from the demonic monster Grendel. What is the epic of Beowulf about?
the early sixth century (early 500s) What time period does the epic Beowulf depict?
Beowulf a Geat; son of Edgetho and nephew of Higlac, king of the Geats; possesses superior physical strength and supremely ethical standards; he embodies the highest ideals of Anglo-Saxon culture; he is from the country of Geatland
Higlac king of the Geats and Beowulf’s uncle
Grendel a man-eating monster who lives at the bottom of a foul, mountain lake; he is a descendant of Cain; after killing 30 of Hrothgar’s sleeping men at Herot in the night, he reigned for 12 years; he repeatedly attacked the country of Denmark
Hrothgar king of the Danes and the king of Denmark, that which is attacked by Grendel; builder of Herot; son of Healfdane; he once was a strong and great king; he is compassionate
Herot a golden guest hall built by King Hrothgar, the Danish ruler; it was a central gathering place where Anglo-Saxon warriors could feast, listen to a bard’s stories and sleep in safety
Wiglaf a Geat warrior, one of Beowulf’s select band and the only one to help him in his final fight against the dragon
Unferth one of Hrothgar’s men who insults Beowulf and questions his reputation, probably because he was jealous of him
weapons Beowulf announces that he will fight the monster, Grendel, without _______________ because Grendel does not use weapons. Beowulf does not wish to have an unfair advantage; if the two engage in hand-to-hand combat, good is pitted against evil on a more elemental level.
wergild an Anglo-Saxon custom or code that states if an Anglo-Saxon kills someone, they have to pay a price for his deed to satisfy the relatives of that person or accept the fact that the victim’s relatives would seek revenge
True True or False:If someone killed their own relative, there was no way of making amends.
He wants his war-shirt returned to King Higlac. If Beowulf is killed, what does he want done with his war-shirt (breast armor, mail)?
feast Hrothgar offers a joyful _______________ in honor of Beowulf’s arrival.
Queen Welthow King Hrothgar’s wife
death For an Anglo-Saxon warrior, life was an either-or situation; life without loyalty or courage was worse than _______________. A true hero would worry more about showing fear or being disloyal than about dying.
comiatus an Anglo-Saxon code that warriors must defend their lord to the death
They are afraid for their lives. Why do none of Hrothgar’s men challenge Grendel?
The throne is protected by God. Why does Grendel not touch Hrothgar’s throne?
The king has already heard of Beowulf and knows of his noble birth; the king acknowledges Beowulf’s bravery. How has Beowulf already begun to be glorified even though he just arrived at Herot?
Beowulf has killed many enemies, chained five giants and chased their race from the earth, and hunted ocean monsters. Beowulf says that he has come to kill Grendel. What proof does he offer that he is up to the task?
Grendel will devour Beowulf, so there will be no body left to bury. Why will Hrothgar not have to hold a funeral if Beowulf dies?
father Hrothgar once helped Beowulf’s _______________.
True True or False:A challenge to a hero made by a character of inferior status, like Unferth, is a common motif in heroic poetry.
That the swimming match was a foolish act of youth. What does Beowulf say about his swimming match competition with Brecca?
Although Beowulf was the faster swimmer, he was concerned with protecting his lesser opponent. What is Beowulf’s explanation for not leaving Brecca far behind?
He had to stop and kill nine monsters. Why did Beowulf lose the swimming race?
Beowulf serves them his sword for the feast, but they die at the bottom of the sea from eating the “food” he feeds them. In what ways does Beowulf compare his defeat of the other sea monsters to a feast?
Unferth is a spiteful, idle boaster who has committed the unpardonable sin of murdering his kinsmen. Beowulf, on the other hand, has earned glory by defending those more helpless than he. In literature, a foil is a character who contrasts with another. How does Unferth serve as a foil to the epic hero Beowulf?
Beowulf says that Unferth and the Danes are weak and unable to defend themselves against Grendel. What is Beowulf’s final response to Unferth’s challenge?
Hrothgar dispenses jewels to his people as symbols of the special tie between him and them. Why is Hrothgar called a ring-giver?
Beowulf is determined to defeat Grendel; he is confident in his abilities as a warrior. What does Beowulf’s speech about his ‘purpose’ reveal about his character?
Night, like a fisherman, appears with a net. What human qualities are given to the night?
Hrothgar gives Beowulf command of Herot and promises him treasures. What does Hrothgar promise Beowulf?
Grendel is an archetypal villain; his heart is filled with hatred and his mind with murder, and he moves stealthily through the darkness. That he is “bearing God’s hatred” and that the people of Herot must defend themselves from him also classify him as a villain. If Beowulf is an archetype of an epic hero, of what is Grendel an archetype?
This time Beowulf is waiting for him – and this time Grendel will not survive. Grendel has been attacking Herot successfully for years. What will be different about this visit to Herot?
Perhaps Beowulf is taking time to formulate a plan of attack; perhaps Grendel simply moves too quickly for Beowulf to stop him. Why do you think Beowulf allows Grendel to slaughter one of the Geats before taking action?
Beowulf has “harder” hands than anyone else whom Grendel has met, and he is holding on to Grendel with a grip that cracks the mighty monster’s claws. What details given in the reading demonstrate Beowulf’s superhuman strength?
Beowulf represents humanity and its virtues; Grendel represents hatred and the powers of darkness. The kennings used to describe Grendel – shepherd of evil, guardian of crime, and the infamous killer, for example – help highlight the distinction. In what ways is this battle between Grendel and Beowulf really a battle between good and evil? What details in the description of the battle make this clear?
Grendel has put a spell on their weapons. Beowulf then proves his status by using his own hands to battle and best the monster. Why can’t Beowulf’s men harm Grendel?
Beowulf rips off Grendel’s arm, causing a fatal wound. How does Beowulf defeat Grendel?
By rescuing the Danes from evil, Beowulf has fulfilled his promise and covered himself with new glory. At the end of the fight between Beowulf and Grendel, what details remind us that Beowulf is a hero of epic proportions, able to represent a people and their values?
He hangs the monster’s arm from Herot’s rafters. The act is a gesture of triumph and an assurance to all at Herot that Grendel will trouble the hall no more. How does Beowulf prove his victory over Grendel? Why might he do this?
Grendel’s slow bleeding to death is suggested by the steaming, boiling water of the lake, evoking the fires of hell. Finally, Grendel dies “in murky darkness”. What has happened to Grendel?
It shows that Beowulf is heroic by anyone’s standards (not just the Geats’ or the Danes’). An archetypal hero would be recognized by a variety of cultures, and the passage – with the visitors’ homage and subsequent retelling of his bravery – suggests that Beowulf is achieving that status. Many princes and leaders traveled to Herot after Beowulf’s victory. How does this add to Beowulf’s status as an epic hero?
Associations of death and darkness stem from images of windy cliffs, secret dens, swirling mists, and a burning, bottomless lake that strikes fear in animals. What images in the description of Grendel’s lair associates Grendel with death and darkness?
Grendel’s grieving mother Who attacks Herot next?
Hrothgar’s closest friend and Grendel’s arm What does Grendel’s mother take back down to her lair with her?
when Hrothgar describes where Grendel and his mother live What is the topic of one of the most famous verses in the epic?
Hrothgar is asking Beowulf to find and kill Grendel’s mother. What is Hrothgar asking Beowulf to do?
HruntingUnferth What is Beowulf’s sword called?Who gave it to him?
Beowulf exhibits superhuman strength; nothing stops him in his quest to defeat the powers of darkness; he stays focused on “fame”, which for him means triumph in a good cause. What characteristics of an epic hero does Beowulf display during his fight with Grendel’s mother?
Fully armed, Beowulf descends to the bottom of the lake – a journey that takes hours. No ordinary man could stay underwater that long. In addition, when Beowulf finds himself in the monster’s lair, he is bathed in a supernatural light that protects him. Describe how Beowulf comes to the lair of Grendel’s mother. What details remind you that Beowulf is not an ordinary man?
The suspense lies in the back-and-forth nature of the struggle: First, Beowulf seems to have the advantage, then Grendel’s mother. Beowulf’s success seems most in doubt when the monster pins him down. He is saved by his chain-mail shirt and by the the grace of God. What details in this description of the battle between Grendel’s mother and Beowulf add to your suspense about the outcome? At what point do you think Beowulf may not be successful? What saves him?
He slices her neck with a magic sword. How does Beowulf kill Grendel’s mother?
Beowulf’s final revenge occurs when he beheads the body of Grendel. He takes Grendel’s head and the hilt of the giant sword back to Herot. What is Beowulf’s final revenge against Grendel? What action of Beowulf’s provides a resolution, or wrapping up, of the episode?
Yes, it shows a final victory over the Danes’ enemies; or No, Grendel has already been killed and proof of his death presented. Do you think that Beowulf’s search for the body of Grendel and his beheading of it add anything to the story? Why or why not?
king Beowulf eventually became _______________ of the Geats.
50 _______________ years go by at the beginning of Part 2 of Beowulf, during which the whole time Beowulf was the king of Geats.
dragon A fire-breathing _______________ is threatening Beowulf’s people.
Because a thief has stolen a jeweled cup from the dragon’s hoard of gold. Why is the dragon angry?
11 Beowulf and _______________ warriors are guided to the dragon’s lair by the thief who stole the cup.
The older and wiser Beowulf realizes that he cannot meet this fire-breathing enemy barehanded (without weapons). How is this older Beowulf different from the Beowulf who slew Grendel and his mother?
Despite his misgivings, he is willing to battle the dragon to the death in order to save his people. His selflessness adds to his heroic stature. How does Beowulf’s acceptance of fate show his deep sense of responsibility to his people?
He fought Grendel and Grendel’s mother alone.The importance of an individual’s battle against evil; the virtue of self-sacrifice; the need for courage in an epic hero. Beowulf insists upon going into battle alone. When has he done so in the past? What does this motif suggest?
Grendel and his mother are freakish, brutal monsters. The dragon, however, is an archetypal figure that emerges from the bowels of the earth and dominates the air with its flames. The author says that the dragon appears less a physical opponent than an embodiment of wyrd. How does the dragon compare with Grendel and Grendel’s mother?
wyrd A concept central to Anglo-Saxon beliefs that means fate – an impersonal force that predetermines the outcome of events in a person’s life. Specifically, the Anglo-Saxons believed that a hero could postpone death through personal bravery but that fate eventually would win out.
archetypal The image of a lone hero standing up to a fire-breathing dragon or other giant monster is one of the most _______________ images in Western heroic literature.
Beowulf’s shield fails him, fate denies him victory, and Beowulf is unable to strike as hard a blow with his sword as he would like. It appears that Beowulf is about to die. What goes wrong during Beowulf’s battle with the dragon? What are you led to believe about Beowulf’s ultimate fate?
Fate sends the dragon to Beowulf, who will kill it; however, fate has also decreed that Beowulf will die too. How does fate play a part in this battle?
They panic and run for their lives. How do Beowulf’s men react to the sight of the dragon gaining victory over Beowulf?
Wiglaf reminds them that Beowulf is their lord or “ring-giver” and that they have pledged him their support. He continues the argument by saying that Beowulf as “the shepherd of our land” deserves their help in return for the lavish gifts and special favor he has given them. What arguments does Wiglaf use to convince the men that they must fight with Beowulf?
comitatus Some critics see the failure of Beowulf’s men to come to his aid – a catastrophic breach of _______________ – as an ominous forecast of the demise of the Geats. Under this code, a leader rewards his followers with gold and riches and expects loyalty in return.
thanes in Anglo-Saxon England, a group of men who held land of the king in exchange for military service
Yes, because he holds true to his code of honor despite personal danger. Based on the code of comitatus, do you think that Wiglaf has the makings of an Anglo-Saxon epic hero? Why or why not?
kill Together Beowulf and the young Wiglaf _______________ the dragon, but the old king is fatally wounded.
He wants to see the treasure to assure himself that he has provided for his people’s welfare after he is gone. Dispensing treasure is a symbol of the loyalty between a king and his people, according to the Anglo-Saxon code. How does Beowulf’s request to see the treasure relate to the fact that he is thinking of his people?
He has left them wealth and has set an example for them of selfless, sacrificial courage according to the Anglo-Saxon code. The ultimate purpose of the epic hero is to leave something of lasting value to his culture. What has Beowulf left to his people?
He wishes for his thanes to build him a barrow that passing ships might see. He wishes Wiglaf to have his golden collar and his armor and to take care of his people. What are Beowulf’s final wishes?
He is cremated. What is the nature of Beowulf’s funeral?
They should praise the hero’s accomplishments and exemplary character; and they should hold dear the hero’s memory. The early Anglo-Saxons did not believe strongly in the afterlife but in the glory or fame that lived on after death. According to this belief, how should people remember a hero who has died?
He performed great deeds and was gracious, fair-minded, and kind – and the most determined to be remembered. The closing lines of Beowulf serve as a kind of elegy – poem that mourns the death of a person or laments something lost. According to these elegiac final lines of the epic, what qualities made Beowulf a great hero?

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