HomeLiterature Study GuidesBeowulfLines 28923182 Beowulfs Funeral Summary

Beowulf | Study Guide

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Course Hero. "Beowulf Study Guide." August 25, 2016. Accessed December 11, 2017. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Beowulf/.

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Course Hero, "Beowulf Study Guide," August 25, 2016, accessed December 11, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Beowulf/.

Beowulf | Lines 2892–3182 (Beowulf's Funeral) | Summary

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Summary

A messenger is told to report all that has happened and informs the people that Beowulf is indeed dead. The messenger goes on to tell of the wars he foresees with the Franks and the Frisians who had been kind only because of a bond with Beowulf. He also speaks of the Swedes avenging the killing of King Ongentheow at Ravenswood. The messenger retells the story of Ravenswood: Ongentheow had cornered a Geatish force; Hygelac came to the rescue and forced Ongentheow to withdraw and fight for his life; he was eventually killed by Eofor of the Geats; the Geats won the battle, and the messenger predicts that King Ongentheow's people will seek revenge now that Beowulf is dead. The men go to the cliff and find the bodies of Beowulf and the dragon.

Wiglaf tells of Beowulf's courageous fight, but he also questions his lord's decision. Then Wiglaf gives orders to build a funeral pyre; afterward, Wiglaf takes seven thanes into the hoard to remove the treasure and bury it in a tall memorial in Beowulf's honor. He ponders Beowulf's fate. The poet recounts the grief of the people as a woman sings of sadness and doom at Beowulf's funeral.

Analysis

Wiglaf is very comfortable leading, but even he is dismayed by what Beowulf's death might mean for the Geats. He sends a messenger to tell the people of Beowulf's death, and the messenger predicts the chaos that will ensue because Beowulf is dead and has left no heir. Equally morbid, he ends his message with creatures taking the bodies of Geats who will be killed because of the upheaval in their kingdom.

The forebodings further the impression that Beowulf was a mighty king who made friends with the right people and was so powerful that no enemies would dare attack. Beowulf's men lament as they look upon his body and build a grand pyre covered with battle armor and helmets. They reflect on his kindness and gentleness as king. Beowulf's death and the death of the dragon further enforce the theme of death and defeat.

There is a lot of talk about the gold, and the conclusion is that the treasure should be burned with Beowulf because its bears the burden of killing their king. In the end, Beowulf sought fame, but it was from a place of loyalty, honor, and responsibility. Beowulf, like any man, was human and made mistakes (like taking on the dragon without an heir in place). Nonetheless he was undoubtedly a true hero.

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