An Epic Hero Beowulf is ancient England’s hero, but he is also an archetype, or perfect example of an epic hero. An archetype is a pattern that appears
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- An Epic Hero Beowulf is ancient Englands hero, but he is also an archetype, or perfect example of an epic hero. An archetype is a pattern that appears in literature across cultures and is repeated through the ages. It can be a character type, a plot, an image, or a setting. Examples of archetypes include: the hero, the villain, a journey, etc. An epic is a long narrative poem that relates great deeds of a larger-than-life hero who embodies the values of a particular society. Most epics include elements of myth, legend, folklore, and history. Their tone is serious and their language grand. Epic Heroes undertake quests to achieve something of tremendous value to themselves or their society.
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- A Heros Story Beowulf is a story about a hero from the misty reaches of the British past, a hero who faces violence, horror, and even death to save a people in mortal danger. The epics events took place many centuries ago, but this story still speaks to people today, perhaps because so many of us are in need of a rescuer, a hero. 3 MINUTE TASK: In your groups, take a moment to discuss contemporary heroes (real or fictitious). What qualities make a hero today? On your white boards (or paper), make a list of the qualities you believe make up todays heroes.
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- Class Discussion: Heroes Groups: Please share your lists with the class. Class: What characteristics/qualities seem to be most prevalent? Why do you think this is so? What does our heroes lists tell us about our society? What do we value?
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- Class Discussion: Heroes Just as our heroes lists reveal something about our society and what we value, so do other hero stories from all different centuries, countries, and cultures. As we read Beowulf, please pay attention to what qualities the hero possesses. What does he do? What does he say? How does he act? How do others respond to him? What does all of this reveal about the Anglo-Saxon culture? What did they value?
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- from Beowulf Story Background As the epic begins, we are introduced to King Hrothgar, a revered and successful leader who has ruled the Danes for many years. He has recently built the mead hall Herot to commemorate his many victories. As Hrothgars men celebrate and enjoy life in Herot, however, a monster called Grendel lurks in the swamps nearby, seething with resentment and hatred for humans. Eventually Grendel attacks Herot and mercilessly kills thirty of Hrothgars men. This marks the beginning of Grendels reign of terror over the Danes, which lasts for twelve years.
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- from Beowulf Story Background Rescue finally comes in the form of a great warrior named Beowulf who hails from the land of the Geats (Sweden). Beowulf hears of Hrothgars troubles and decides to journey to Denmark with some of his strongest men to do battle with Grendel. He meets with Hrothgar and boasts of his numerous past achievements, which qualify him to challenge Grendel. Beowulf then announces that he will fight the monster that night without weapons. A celebratory feast ensues. As it ends, Beowulf and his men take the place of Hrothgars followers and lie down to sleep in Herot. Beowulf, however, is wakeful, eager to meet his enemy. He is not kept waiting long...
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- The Battle with Grendel
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- Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty Hills and bogs, bearing Gods hatred, Grendel came, hoping to kill 395 Anyone he could trap on this trip to high Herot. 1.What details are we given in this section that characterize Grendel? 2.What do you think bearing Gods hatred reveals about Grendel? 3.Why does he leave his marsh? 4.Who does he wish to kill? 5.What do all of these details tell you about Grendel? Grendel is an evil creature, either hated by God or who hates God. He wants to kill anyone he can, which means there is no purpose for the killing other than to cause death, destruction, and despair.
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- He moved quickly through the cloudy night, Up from his swampland, sliding silently Toward that gold-shining hall. 1.What is revealed about Grendel that he can move quickly through a cloudy night? 2.Identify the alliteration in this section. 3.What sound effect does the repetition (alliteration) of the s make? What does it sound like? 4.What allusion is the author making by using this descriptive alliterative detail? 5.How does this detail connect with bearing Gods hatred? The Battle with Grendel
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- He had visited Hrothgars Home before, knew the way 400 But never, before nor after that night, Found Herot defended so firmly, his reception So harsh. 1.Grendel has been easily terrorizing Herot for 12 years, what is different about this time? 2.How are the details visited and his reception an example of verbal irony? The Battle with Grendel
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- He journeyed, forever joyless, Straight to the door, then snapped it open, Tore its iron fasteners with a touch, 405 And rushed angrily over the threshold. He strode quickly across the inlaid Floor, snarling and fierce: His eyes Gleamed in the darkness, burned with a gruesome Light. 1.What characterization details are given in this passage about Grendels strength? What does it reveal about him? 2.What characterization details are given about Grendels mannerisms, mood, and attitude? What do these details suggest about him? The Battle with Grendel
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- Then he stopped, seeing the hall 410 Crowded with sleeping warriors, stuffed With rows of young soldiers resting together. And his heart laughed, he relished the sight, Intended to tear the life from those bodies By morning; the monsters mind was hot 415 With the thought of food and the feasting his belly Would soon know. But fate, that night, intended Grendel to gnaw the broken bones Of his last human supper. 1.What characterization details are given in this passage about Grendel? What does it reveal about him? 2.Where does the author use foreshadowing in this section? 3.What does the foreshadowing reveal about Grendels fate? 4.What is the personification in this section? 5.What is the significance of fate? What does that suggest about Beowulf? The Battle with Grendel
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- Human Eyes were watching his evil steps, 420 Waiting to see his swift hard claws. Grendel snatched at the first Geat He came to, ripped him apart, cut His body to bits with powerful jaws, Drank the blood from his veins, and bolted 425 Him down, hands and feet; death And Grendels great teeth came together, Snapping life shut. 1.What do the characterization details in this passage tell you about Grendels size and strength? 2.Who are the Human Eyes watching him? The Battle with Grendel
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- Then he stepped to another Still body, clutched at Beowulf with his claws, Grasped at a strong-hearted wakeful sleeper 430 And was instantly seized himself, claws Bent back as Beowulf leaned up on one arm. 1.The term wakeful sleeper is both a kenning and an oxymoron. A kenning is a metaphorical phrase or compound word used to name a person, place, thing, or event indirectly (i.e. whale road to describe the sea). In this kenning, Beowulf is described as the wakeful sleeper. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines apparently contradictory or incongruous ideas (i.e. wise fool or loud silence). How is wakeful sleeper an oxymoron? The Battle with Grendel
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- That shepherd of evil, guardian of crime, Knew at once that nowhere on earth Had he met a man whose hands were harder; 435 His mind was flooded with fearbut nothing Could take his talons and himself from that tight Hard grip. Grendels one thought was to run From Beowulf, flee back to his marsh and hide there: This was a different Herot than the hall he had emptied. 1.Identify the kennings in this section. 2.What does Grendel immediately notice is different about this attack? 3.How does Grendel react? 4.How do these details characterize Grendel? What would you say about him? 5.Knowing what you know about Grendel already, and how he has been attacking Herot for 12 years, what do these details reveal about Beowulf? The Battle with Grendel
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- But Higlacs follower remembered his final Boast and, standing erect, stopped The monsters flight, fastened those claws In his fists till they cracked, clutched Grendel Closer. The infamous killer fought 445 For his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat, Desiring nothing but escape; his claws Had been caught, he was trapped. That trip to Herot Was a miserable journey for the writhing monster! 1.Identify the kennings in this section. 2.Why doesnt Beowulf simply let Grendel leave? 3.What does Grendel want? 4.Do you feel sorry for Grendel? Why or why not? The Battle with Grendel
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- The high hall rang, its roof boards swayed, 450 And Danes shook with terror. Down The aisles the battle swept, angry And wild. Herot trembled, wonderfully Built to withstand the blows, the struggling Great bodies beating at its beautiful walls; 455 Shaped and fastened with iron, inside And out, artfully worked, the building Stood firm. Its benches rattled, fell To the floor, gold-covered boards grating As Grendel and Beowulf battled across them. 460 Hrothgars wise men had fashioned Herot To stand forever; only fire, They had planned, could shatter what such skill had put Together, swallow in hot flames such splendor Of ivory and iron and wood. 1.How is the battle between Beowulf and Grendel described? The Battle with
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