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Beowulf Essay Topics & Paper Examples

Grendel as a Sympathetic Character

Can you imagine being born and automatically being considered evil? This is what happens to Grendel. Throughout the book everyone’s feelings towards Grendel is that of a bad person or creature. In Grendel my sympathy for Grendel fluctuates. Grendel starts out as a sympathetic character because he is an innocent curious child with a mother who doesn’t talk, and lives in a cave. As the story moves on Grendel is misunderstood then starts to make decisions that makes my sympathy for him decrease. Throughout the book there are three stages to Grendels’ life. The first stage starts off with his childhood, which he spends exploring and questioning. He eventually finds the lake of firesnakes and the land after it is…

Beowulf

One of the main reasons we study literature from different cultures and different times is to learn about the people who wrote the stories down. From “Beowulf”, we can speculate on the values, religion and culture of Anglo-Saxon people through the values of allegiance to lord and king, love of glory as the ruling motive of every noble life, and the inevitability of fate. In Beowulf the warriors were sworn to protect and serve their lord and in exchange for such allegiance. Hrothgar was expected to bestow riches and social standing upon them. This allegiance and reward is an important theme in the book. Loyalty was shown to Hrothgar by his warriors so he built Herot for their convenience. Wiglaf…

Qualities of a Hero

In the epic poem Beowulf, one learns about one of the first known great heroes. Although heroes don’t always wear capes or bear superpowers, some people choose to think that these are the only heroes that exist. In truth, heroes are people who do extraordinary things, even in small measures. A hero can be defined as a person who does great deeds for another or that has admirable traits and abilities. In the time period of the story, heroes are usually great warriors. They receive honor, glory, respect, and fame for their heroic deeds. Modern heroes are similarly recognized, but are often ordinary citizens. They possess traits shared with Beowulf such as strength, self-sacrifice, and loyalty. Beowulf’s physical strength in…

Pride Cometh Before Fall

Before fighting Grendel, Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon cultured man that seeks “fame through success”, states, “He knows he can trample down you to his heart’s content, humiliate and murder without fear of reprisal. But he will find me different” (Beowulf, lines 599-601). As well as Beowulf, Satan, a fallen angel, pursues his hate against God by corrupting mankind’s purity. As a result, his action will stain God’s memories forever. Besides being obdurate and egotistical, Satan and Beowulf share a common goal of proving his singularity in his respective world. In combination with their pride, their similar desires make Satan and Beowulf epic heroes that fall in society. In John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the poet of Beowulf, the struggle that emerges…

Beowulf Comparison

Beowulf is a very appealing novel as well as a film. The novel Beowulf and the film have many similarities, but they have more differences then anything. While watching the film I noticed many added parts that were not included in the novel. In the film, Grendel’s arm caught is caught on a rope as he’s trying to escape. As the men get closer he has no choice but to cut his own arm off in order to escape, this action is an actual animal reaction when their limb gets caught, the eat their own limb off. This event does not occur in the novel. In the novel Grendel is described as an evil monster with claws, while in the…

Grendel’s Monstrosity

Monstrosity is something that is outrageously or offensively wrong, and that is just what Grendel demonstrated in the epic poem, “Beowulf.” Grendel, who is the antagonist in this story, clearly showed he knew what he was doing when he hunted and murdered his prey. He even showed that he enjoyed slaughtering others. Through all this, he shows that he is explicitly evil and it was right for him to be put down like the animal he was. “That shadow of death hunted in the darkness, stalked Hrothgar’s warriors, old and young, lying in waiting, hidden in mist, invisibly following them from the edge of the marsh, always there, unseen” (Beowulf 2: Line 74). Grendel was smart and a slithery serpent….

A Tale Of Two Cities vs. Beowulf

When talking about renowned stories and strong characters in literature, there are two names that come up every time, A Tale of Two Cities and Beowulf. Both of these stories can be compared in many ways and in many ways they are extremely different with few similarities. These stories were written centuries apart yet they are both still notorious today. The diverse styles of writing in each of these tales show the different time periods. There are three similarities that I want to specifically discuss more about: the protagonists’ characteristics, how they change, and how they end their lives with meaning. One of the differences between the two books is that the protagonists, Beowulf and Sydney Carton, are more comparable…

Development of English Lit During Any One Period

Trace the development of English lit during any one period…As part of your discussion highlight how significant events in the influence the writing…Additionally show how characteristics of the genre the writer uses reflects the period in which it was written. James Arthur Baldwin once stated that: “know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” This quotation may apply to the span of the Anglo-Saxon period because of the coherent linkage to the origination of the English dialect and the modernization of English Literature. Over the years English literature has evolved greatly. There have been diverse changes to the structure and development of English language since the advent…

Compare and Contrast Beowulf Book and Movie

In the movie and poem Beowulf there were many differences and similarities that stood out to me. Usually when a book or poem gets made into a movie there are many differences and similarities. This is why I was not surprised that Beowulf the movie was no true to the original poem. I enjoyed the poem a lot more than the movie. The movie seemed artificial and not believable in comparison to the poem. One difference between the poem and the movie was that the poem explained the actual story of Beowulf and his journey in much more detail. On the other hand it was interesting to be able to visually see the poem come to life as it is…

Beowulf: An Epic Hero

“I resolved when I set out on the sea, sat down in the sea- boat with my band of men, which should altogether fulfill the will of your people or else fall in slaughter, fast in the foe’s grasp. I shall achieve a deed of manly courage or else have lived to see in this mead-hall my ending day” (Garcia) Beowulf was from a far away world to seek the challenges with the beasts and show his great courage and speaks as an epic hero. Beowulf announces his name and shows his glory and invoking the reputation he has for himself through his great deeds. “The man whose name was known for courage the Great leader, resolute in his helmet,…

Virtue and Beowulf

Directions: Create a thoughtful, organized, and well-developed essay response to one of the following prompts. Treat your response seriously, and make sure that your response highlights your analytical skills as well as a critical understanding of the poem. You must include compelling details from the poem to support your conclusions. 1. Many critics and teachers believe that Beowulf contains themes that are relevant to modern life. Do you agree or disagree? Explain your opinions using details/lines from the poem for support. 2. The pagan Germans, Greeks, and other ancient peoples believed that fame and glory are the only things that will survive a human being’s death. What evidence do you find in this poem of the importance placed on a…

Virtue and Epic

Beowulf, the Anglo Saxon tale of a hero’s great courage, is an example of the epic form of literature. An epic is a long narrative poem that celebrates a hero’s deeds. Beowulf takes place on the European mainland, among two tribes which were the Danes and the Geats. The Geat warrior, Beowulf, crosses the sea to help the Danes and fights monsters, he later returns to Sweden to succeed his uncle Higlac as king of the Geats. Another reason Beowulf is an epic is because the story has a vast setting and includes a long, dangerous journey. Beowulf not only fights in land but he also fought dangerous sea creatures underwater. Throughout this epic, Beowulf makes a journey to find…

Beowulf 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? Unlike Hrothgar, Shield became king because he had the ability to take down the enemies. Hrothgar became king through wealth. When Shield died the Danes buried him and his treasures in the sea. Hrothgar happens to be Shield’s grandson [Heorot is Attacked] (lines 86-188, pp. 34-36) 1. Grendel, the monster, attached thirty warriors while they were asleep and ran home with their bodies for a couple of nights. This devastated the Danes and the sorrow soon spread overseas. What magnificent…

Beowul, Hygelac & Hrothgar

The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf contains accounts of several powerful men, the three most important ones being Beowulf, Hrothgar and Hygelac. Hygelac, king of the Geats, is Beowulf’s uncle. Beowulf is, therefore, both Hygelac’s nephew and his thane. He comes to aid Hrothgar, king of Denmark, when the latter is experiencing difficulties that have the power to destroy his kingdom: the monster Grendel has been attacking Hrothgar’s mead-hall Heorot regularly for a long time, and Beowulf is the only man who can put an end to this misery. In many ways, these three old English heroes are similar in character, both in their earlier years and when they have grown old. One thing the gentlemen have in common is the fact…

Christianity vs. Pagan Beliefs in Beowulf

Although there are many examples of Pagan beliefs in the poem Beowulf, the poem points more toward a Christian influence and meaning. Beowulf is seen as a God to the Geat people, and they turn to the Almighty to save them from evil. Grendel is portrayed as a “monster of Cain” and lives underground. He represents the darkness of the Pagan beliefs, as well as Hell. The battle between good and evil – between Christianity and Pagan beliefs – is continued throughout the poem. Hrothgar and the Danes seem to be protected by the Almighty. Grendel would not go near Hrothgar’s throne because it was protected by God. When Hrothgar is talking to Beowulf before Beowulf goes to fight Grendel,…

An Epic Hero: Beowulf

Beowulf is an epic from the Anglo-Saxon period about a hero who takes on extreme challenges. The main character, Beowulf, embodies the virtues of the Anglo-Saxon culture and beliefs. He also embodies the traits of the Anglo-Saxon society: strength, bravery, honor, and the want and need to help others around them. Beowulf is faithful to his word and shares any and all of his winnings and gifts that he has received. His being faithful to his oaths links him to the Anglo-Saxons. Beowulf makes an oath to kill Grendel and he does (page 37). After Grendel is killed, the people tell Beowulf of Grendel’s mother and he tells them he will have her dead as well and indeed he does…

Hamlet vs. Beowulf

How do the protagonists from Beowulf and Hamlet compare? Though both play a major role in an epic story, they share a few common viewpoints. The outcome of both stories is greatly influenced by the main character’s struggles in life. The situations that occur throughout these stories also impact the narratives. In addition, the various characters in each work influence the protagonists’ choices and lives. Each is involved in themes which can easily relate to those of modern day society, although Beowulf and Hamlet live in completely different times. Beowulf is the ideal warrior; he is a strong, fearless fighter and a fantastic leader who goes to immutable extremes to protect his people. When his country is threatened by what…

Beowulf Question

8) Does the Green Knight play by the rules of courtesy? Is he ultimately a negative or a positive figure? The Green Knight plays by the rules of courtesy. The Green Knight keeps to his word and is loyal, which is a big aspect to keeping with the rules of courtesy. He shows this when he first explains the game to Sir Gawain. The Green Knight game allows Gawain to take the first swing at him, “Now hold your grim tool steady And show us how it hacks.” (ln.412-413). He makes sure that Sir Gawain understands the rules and that he will stick to the game, as the Green Knight will too. This is shown when he repeats the part…

Good vs. Evil

Beowulf is a long narrative between good and evil. Throughout Beowulf, it was shown that two opposites could not peacefully live. Beowulf is divided into three parts, each centers around Beowulf fight with a particular monster: first Grendel, then Grendel’s Mother, and last the Dragon. Each monster presents a specific moral challenge. Beowulfs fight with Grendel brings to mind the importance of character as a means of expanding one’s survival past death. Beowulfs battle with Grendels mother was all about retaliation. Just as Beowulf wanted revenge at Grendel for killing Hrothgar’s men. So Grendel mother thought she could get rid of her sorrow by slaying her son’s murderer. Beowulfs last fight with the dragon represents a heroic approach to fate….

Good and Evil and Beowulf

Beowulf is the most famous epic of the Anglo-Saxon period. This is a story of an epic hero who fights against the most sinister monsters known to man. Beowulf and Grendel are the main characters of this tale; they are the perfect example of good versus evil, light versus dark, and hero versus villain. Beowulf is the story all epic hero stories have followed; the Beowulf with his hero qualities goes head to head with Grendel. Heroes and villains share a lot of qualities but a number of key characteristics set them apart. Heroes as well as villains above all are abnormal; they share their own specific goals and are often very intelligent and capable of achieving what they want…

Good vs. Evil

Review of Knowledge- NR 291 Chapters 2-7, 36 & 37; Part 1 Chapter 2: Pharmacologic Principles “Any chemical that affects the physiologic processes of a living organism can broadly be defined as a drug. The study or science of drugs is known as pharmacology. Without understanding basic pharmacologic principles, the nurse cannot fully appreciate the therapeutic benefits and potential toxicity of drugs. Drugs are grouped together based on their similar properties. This is known as a drug classification. Drugs can be classified by their structure (e. g. , beta-adrenergic blockers) or by their therapeutic use (e. g. , antibiotics, antihypertensives, antidepressants). Within the broad classification, each class may have subclasses; for example, penicillins are a subclass within the group of…

Nihilism and Existentialism in Grendel

Nihilism, as well as existentialism and a host of other philosophies are boldly explored in Grendel, a novel by John Gardner. The antagonist Grendel travels on a journey of self-discovery, eventually becoming a nihilist, only to be gallantly disproved by the hero Beowulf. In the end Gardner proves that the virtues of individuality and meaning triumph over meaningless violence and destruction. While Gardner presents countless philosophies and thoughts in Grendel, the two most prominent are nihilism and existentialism. The monster Grendel begins life as an existentialist. After leaving his mother’s cave, he is introduced to a vast, confusing world. As a defense against the rest of the universe, Grendel establishes existentialism as his philosophy. Grendel is initially confused about the…

True Standards of a Hero

George Washington, Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, and even Taylor Swift have been proven to be heroes in today’s culture. Long before any of these individuals walked the Earth, the story of a man exhibiting what a true hero of epic proportions really is. Beowulf, a poem in British literature from the eighth century, showcases the concept of real heroism. Beowulf, a Geat who provides the real qualities of a dominate hero, travels to Herot to protect the kingdom of King Hrothgar. Beowulf will find himself battling with monsters that represent evil, the devil, and depths of Hell. The people of the kingdom are, at first, nervous of having a man fight the monster, Grendel, but are soon proven that Beowulf…

Beowulf: The Man, the Legend, the Hero

Beowulf is an epic poem whose earliest surviving copy was written in 1000 A.D. The story consists of three thousand one hundred and eighty two lines that follow the life of the title character. The original author of the epic poem is unknown mainly because it started as a verbal tale passed down orally through the ages. Finally someone wrote it down in a document now called the Nowell Codex. The epic tale is centered on Beowulf and his actions in an adventure to repay a debt owed by his father to Hrothgar, a Danish king. A gargantuan monster that is terrorizing Hrothgar’s mead hall is Beowulf’s target and Beowulf sails across the sea to aid his father’s friend. Doesn’t…

Nobility and Beowulf

Epics have been written and told orally for hundreds of years. A typical epic usually contains challenges, journeys, adventures and most importantly, a hero. An epic hero has several characteristics that make him unique. First of all, he or she usually comes from a noble family, which means, a noble birth. Also, they tend to have superhuman strength and accomplish beyond human deeds. A must in all Epic stories is that this hero must go on a quest in search of something. This quest, also known as a journey, holds several challenges and unexpected turns that the hero must overcome. Beowulf, an epic hero, is a fantastic example and fits the standards perfectly of an epic hero. He is noble,…

Fear and Immensely Powerful Body

In This Descriptive essay, I will be writing about the Monster “Grendel,’ from the story of Beowulf. I will be giving details about him, while he is in action in a scene of the story, which will lead to my conclusion of why I believe he is a coward, a horrible monster, & above all, an obmination. Prepared to spill the blood of unsuspecting, drunken warriors in their sleep, Grendel quickly broke doen the reinforced door to the Herot with great strength and viciousness. Grendel’s strides were expansive. With each step, the monster’s huge, feet practically flew, one after the other. The floor seemed to be instantly displaced due to his impressive agility. “His eyes gleamed in the darkness, burned…

Beowulf Comprehension Questions

Please be sure that you answer in complete sentences using quotes from the text to support your responses. After reading Section 1: 1. What role does Hrothgar play in the epic? -The role that Hrothgar played in the epic was the role of the king. 2. Who/what is causing so much grief in Hrothgar’s kingdom? -Grendel, the monster, was causing a lot of grief in the kingdom. “How Grendel wasn’t about to stop, or pay damages.” 3. How many years has this battle with Grendel been going on? -The battle with Grendel had been going for twelve years. 4. What attempts have been made to rid the land of this beast? -The council attempted to plan many attacks against Grendel….

Old English Poem: Beowulf

Old English is a term to refer to the language and the literature spoken and written in Britain during the time between the coming of the Anglo-Saxons to Britain in the fifth century and the Norman Conquest in 1066. There are many tribes such as the Picts, Jutes, Scotes invaded Britain, this resulted in the mixing of several races, tongues and cultures. But the West Germanic tribes known as the Anglo-Saxon were the most influential tribes during this period. The Anglo-Saxons were warrior-farmers and came from north-western Europe. They began to invade Britain while the Romans were still in control. The Anglo-Saxons were tall, fair-haired men, armed with swords and spears and round shields. Their skills are hunting, farming, cloth…

Grendel Analysis

Grendal is an evil monster, or maybe that is what the poet wants his readers to think. The poet’s use of sensory images, emotive words, and kennings to paint a picture that Grendal is a monster, but this is only an illusion. To begin with, tone helps the poet display Grendal as a monster, not a human. The first example is from lines 407-8, “He strode quickly across the inlaid/floor, snarling and fierce.” This quote shows Grendal making snarling noises, only those a monster would make. This only just establishes the illusion. The second example is from line 428, “Clutched at Beowulf with his claws.” In this quote, Grendal is shown to have claws, something a human does not have,…

Beowulf, Faustus and Paradise Lost

In Beowulf, Faustus and Paradise Lost undergo a religious transition, from Paganism to Christianity, Christianity to Reformation and Rebel. These changes aptly reflect the historical shift from a boastful and violent view to a more humble and meritorious perspective. We see a shift in consciousness from the writers point of view, beginning during the Medieval epic poem Beowulf and trace the religious shift in this consciousness between Beowulf and Paradise Lost. It can be seen in these texts, (including Faustus) that although Christianity was very much a powerful model against which society was built in the Middle Ages, it is also contradictory in many ways. William Shakespeare is known for his writings on Denmark for his work in Hamlet and…