[ORDER SOLUTION] Beowulf Reading

How is the Beowulf reading going? Are you understanding it, beginning to understand it, or still struggling? In the lecture notes, I comment that in the world of Beowulf a failure to take revenge could be psychologically destructive. Usually, in our time, we think of taking revenge as psychologically damaging. (Although we do still say, “revenge is sweet.”) Imagine and comment on why a culture might see taking revenge as contributing to emotional health. Quote an alliterative passage from Beowulf that appeals to you. Paraphrase it and explain what the images and words make you see or feel. What are some ways Anglo-Saxon culture was completely different from our own? One thing you might notice throughout Beowulf is that the writer is very aware of the psychological effects people experience when they lose someone to death. Re-read lines 129-134 and describe the emotional condition Grendel’s attacks leave Hrothgar in. Paraphrase what Beowulf predicts will follow the old spearman’s words, “Now my friend, don’t you recognize…,” lines 2053-2061. Think about Beowulf’s behavior towards Unferth right before he sails to his own home (southern Sweden), beginning about line 1807-1812. From a leadership point of view, why do you think Beowulf is so respectful to Unferth? See lines 2379-2390. This passage reveals extremely important details. Paraphrase it. To understand these lines better, look at your genealogy before the poem begins, part 3. This explains that Ongentheow is the father of Ohthere and Onela. Ohthere would have been Ongentheow’s heir, and when he is killed in battle, Ohthere’s oldest son, Eanmund, might try to claim the throne. However, Onela becomes king of the Swedes, but Eanmund and Eadgils threaten his power. Read lines 2430-2443 and describe what happened in Hrethel’s family before the Beowulf story began. What relation is Hrethel to Beowulf? In lines 2444-2462, the poet tries to explain Hrethel’s reaction to his son’s death by telling an imaginary story about another father. Paraphrase lines 2450-2462, using quotations here and there. Comment on the imagery the poet uses to communicate the emotions the old man feels. Read lines 2616-2619, referring to Onela’s response to Weohstan’s offering Eanmund’s weapons to him. Explain why Onela does this, remembering that Eanmund is his nephew and thinking about revenge killing and/or wergild. Once you get to the end of the poem, I want you to figure out whose sword is in Wiglaf’s possession and why that matters to the future of the Geats. HINT: It’s not Beowulf’s sword, and it came from the Swedes. You can understand why the origin of Wiglaf’s sword matters so much if you remember the Freawaru digression, and the way the old spearman gets the younger one worked up; keep in mind the impact of lines 2910-2923, especially line 2922-2923. Have you read any different versions of Beowulf before? There are other poetry versions than Heaney’s, and there are also prose versions. Would you rather read the story in poetry or prose? Why? What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? Have you seen any movies based on Beowulf (like The 13th Warrior and the horrendous 2007 Beowulf)? What did you think of them? Can you think of other movies or stories that kind of remind you of Beowulf? (The Lord of the Rings trilogy comes to mind, as do the Klingons in the Star Trek series.) Is Beowulf more of a Pagan or Christian work? Where do you see elements of both?

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