Beowulf Notes

 Beowulf: Strong Northern European (Germanic) influence but shows a Christian influence. Christian ethic undercuts heroic influence (Old English).

Beowulf, a Geat, is the hero; extraordinary swimmer & warrior. He comes to defend the Danes and King Hrothgar against monsters. His father, Ecgtheow, owed the Danish King because he had raised a ransom (wergeld, blood money) for him. Beowulf repays the debt by slaying Grendel and his mother. Beowulf comes to save the Danes. 1. Strips off his clothes & fights hand-to-hand with Grendel. 2. Kills mom with sword. 3. Slays dragon with sword, shield, & another warrior, Wiglaf. Although Wiglaf was afraid, he aided the king because of personal loyalty. When Beowulf leaves, Hrothgar's son comes to stay with Beowulf. He returns home where he eventually becomes king. Rules for 50 years; dies after battling a dragon who had begun to terrorize the Geats because Beowulf had received his stolen cup through the gift-giving circuit. Beowulf is old and has lost some of his strength. He is aided in the battle by Wiglaf; other warriors have deserted Beowulf. Ending is bad. People fear that the Swedes will "swarm" their land. Typifies situation in England at that time. People feared invasions. Like Beowulf, the Romans were no longer there to protect them.

  1. the Earth
  2. within
  3. Cain (Hell, & feud-revenge)
  4. Society
Grendel. Envy and anger.
Grendel's Mother. Feuding.
The dragon. Greed and hoarding.