Beowulf Study Guide

Beowulf Study Guide

Original title:
February 17th 2001 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 975)
Denmark Geatland (Sweden) Blank (Denmark)
ISBN 0393320979 (ISBN13: 9780393320978)

Beowulf is definitely a must read as one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon poems written around 700 A.D. Today it’s hard to say what exactly was in the original text since it has been rewritten and reworked a couple times before reaching modern day publishing. But the book didn’t lose its relevance, historic value and linguistic beauty and is being admired now more than ever.

It all begins with a great grandson of Sculding dynasty ruler, an aging king Hrothgar, worrying about the attacks on his people by beast Grendel. By a lucky chance, it is a young and strong warrior named Beowulf together with his best soldiers that will beat the demon and his mother with bare hands as a return of an old favor. He then returns to his native Geats and rules successfully for fifty years. Facing another military challenge, now in the face of a dragon, Beowulf is mortally wounded and glorified forever in an enormous barrow full of treasures. 

Despite a very typical plot meant to upkeep the spirits of subordinates of those times, “Beowulf” is a powerful poem that is loved and read today by millions because of its rich meanings and deep story. Each character is so fine-tuned that they make for very rounded personalities worth admiring. There are also lines related to first Christianity traditions in the region. And the balance of young blood and wise age calls for a lot of respect from the readers. 

“Beowulf” is a surprisingly solid poem. People who know how hard it can be to concentrate on reading poems will especially appreciate its rhythm that is in the couplets composition and plot contents. Colorful descriptions and courageous heroes make the poem a live picture form the past that unfolds on the pages of the book: fierce fights, glorious victories, sad losses and abundant feasts of the sixth century Denmark and Sweden. Everybody will find something for him or her to admire in the book.

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