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Beowulf | Study Guide


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Beowulf | Discussion Questions 31 - 40


In Beowulf, what purposes do Beowulf's and King Hrothgar's goodbyes serve?

Beowulf expresses his thanks for the royal treatment he has received and demonstrates a strong respect and increased loyalty toward King Hrothgar and the Danes. He declares he would come to their aid should they ever need it again. King Hrothgar is even more impressed with Beowulf and reciprocates his respect and loyalty. He says that should the Geats ever be in need of a leader, Beowulf would make a great king. They have both declared loyalty, and a peaceful relationship between the two kingdoms is solidified. King Hrothgar is saddened because he knows this is the last time he will see Beowulf in his lifetime.

In Beowulf, what is Beowulf's arrival back in Geatland like?

The harbor guard rushes to help them "moor their craft" and orders Beowulf's treasure to be carried to Hygelac's majestic home. Beowulf is offered greetings by King Hygelac. Beowulf presents the treasures he earned to his king. Hygelac questions Beowulf about his grand adventures, and Beowulf recounts the dangerous encounters with Grendel and his mother. Hygelac admits that he didn't want Beowulf to go initially, but he is proud that Beowulf was able to help the Danes and empower the Geat kingdom.

In Beowulf, who is Hygd and what qualities does she have that the author finds admirable?

Hygd is the daughter of Haereth and the wife of King Hygelac. She is described as thoughtful and generous—both well-regarded traits for a queen. She trusts Beowulf and is impressed by his character. Upon her husband's death she offers the throne to Beowulf, as she feels her son is too young to be king.

In Beowulf, what behavior of Queen Modthryth (also spelled Thryth) in Lines 1931–1943 inspires a negative response by the author?

Queen Modthryth appears extremely entitled—so entitled that if she felt insulted by a man looking at her, she had the man executed (Lines 1931–1943). She clearly wasn't a "weaver of peace." The author's inclusion of her reminds us that the women in the kingdom were important to the reputation of the monarchy.

How does Offa, Queen Modthryth's husband, change the queen's behavior in Lines 1944–1957 of Beowulf?

King Offa is described as being very generous; his generosity may have impressed her, and she gradually saw the value of generosity. Likewise, he was loyal and fought hard for his homeland, which may have evoked the same loyalty and sense of nationalism in his bride. She recognized that her reputation was a reflection of the kingdom and that her behavior could lead to improved or dire circumstances for her loyal subjects.

In Beowulf, when Beowulf recalls King Hrothgar's reception for him at court in Lines 2010–2022, what does he say impressed him?

Beowulf was impressed that King Hrothgar sent him to sit in a place of honor among his own sons. He expresses his delight that the queen joined them in the hall. He is also impressed with the king's daughter who distributed ale to the men who were present.

In Beowulf, why does Beowulf eventually believe the marriage of Freawaru won't bring peace?

Beowulf concludes the feud is too fresh and the desire for revenge too deep. He doubts the love between Ingeld and his bride will be strong enough to bridge the feud. When the two marry, Beowulf is concerned the men will drink and remember their pain and sadness, which will ultimately lead to war.

What does Beowulf's account of the battle with Grendel demonstrate about his character in Beowulf?

Beowulf retells the battle, but he doesn't elaborate, and he certainly doesn't paint a true picture of the dangerous and life-threatening situation. By minimizing his role, this humility endears him to King Hygelac, his men, and even the audience.

In Beowulf, what does Beowulf do with the treasures he receives from King Hrothgar, and who else receives bounty?

Beowulf receives a treasure from King Hrothgar for his service, and he gives the bounty to his king, Hygelac. Likewise, Beowulf gives the golden torque (collar) to the queen. He also rewards his warriors. This is another example of true heroism and the humility of a hero. But more than anything, Beowulf demonstrates his loyalty and his generosity.

How does a slave's action endanger the kingdom in Beowulf?

The slave who runs away from his master and steals a goblet from the dragon puts the whole kingdom and his own life at risk. Although he enters the barrow with no ill intent, that doesn't minimize the catastrophic consequences that ensue when the dragon seeks revenge for the theft.

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