Literature Study GuidesBeowulfLines 64 193 Terror At King Hrothgars Hall Summary

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Lines 64-193 (Terror at King Hrothgar's Hall)

Course Hero's video study guide provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Lines 64-193 (Terror at King Hrothgar's Hall) in the epic poem Beowulf.

Beowulf | Lines 64–193 (Terror at King Hrothgar's Hall) | Summary

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Summary

King Hrothgar grows powerful and has many loyal subjects. Hrothgar has been shown favor because of his leadership and to reward that accomplishment, he commissions a lavish "mead-hall," which he calls Heorot ("Hall of the Hart") to symbolize his wealth and success as a leader. Soon, however, the house of Hrothgar is threatened and attacked repeatedly by an evil force named Grendel, an outcast described as a "demon." Grendel becomes enraged by the loud banquets and noisy poets who proclaim the goodness of God. He storms the castle, takes 30 of Hrothgar's men to his lair, and returns them "butchered." Grendel continues his murderous rampage for "twelve winters." King Hrothgar, distressed and helpless, turns to his trusted advisers for help; they recommend a shrine and offering to the heathen gods.

Analysis

The building of Heorot Hall is important because all great kings must have a hall in which to take refuge after long bouts of war. It is where the king hosts gatherings for his thanes and warriors, and is a sign of security, prosperity, and community. The banquets Hrothgar hosts strengthen one of the poem's themes, that of hospitality. Heorot also demonstrates Hrothgar's power and his pride.

As all great stories have a conflict, the continuous prosperity causes audiences to wonder when "the fall" will happen. Sure enough, the story darkens when Grendel enters the picture. Grendel, a huge and violent creature, symbolizes evil and poses a great threat to Hrothgar and his kingdom. Hrothgar is powerless against Grendel, and all his warriors desert Heorot Hall for fear they will become his next victims.

The pagan rituals suggested by Hrothgar's advisers signify the conflict between two different religious beliefs. The poet indicates Hrothgar doesn't know yet about the Lord Almighty, which gives cause to wonder if that is a theme of the poem—perhaps Hrothgar's pagan practices are leading him into trouble, not away from it.

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