Set-Up: We have — like Beowulf and his men — just knocked on Herot’s door. In other words, we’re ‘entering’ the story from a very basic level of understanding.  [note:  hopefully you picked up on the Herot reference!]

Sure, we grasp the basics of the story:  there is a bad guy/creature, a king and his men who are in trouble, a hero that arrives to save the proverbial day, an epic battle that is about to begin, etc.  Likewise, we diligently begin to note various character’s names and lineage-oriented relationships, figure out the basic plot structure, and wrestle with a bit of language (or epic poetic structure) that takes some early effort for us to ‘translate’ now that summer is over.

At the same time, we quickly begin to realize — as Honors students [note: pat yourselves on the back at this point] – that something deeper and more complicated is going on in this story of swords, warriors and kings running from creepy head-smashing monster-critters.  Some of these may include:

  • historical/societal connections
  • language, syntax, diction, connotations
  • literary allusions
  • character psychology
  • metaphors, similes, symbols
  • and this quirky thing that Mr. Long keeps subtly bringing up over and over and over and over…


Part 1:  Point out one utterly cool/intriguing thing that you noticed in each of the following sections that goes beyond plot summary:

  1. “The Monster Grendel”
  2. “The Arrival of the Hero”
  3. “Unferth’s Challenge”
  4. “The Battle with Grendel”
  5. “The Monster’s Mother”

Part 2:  Explain — in 3+ sentencesone of the 5 things that caught your attention.  Even if you don’t fully get it, take some time exploring the ideas/possibilities.  We’ll learn from each other along the way.


22 responses to “W3, #4: KNOCKING ON HEROT’S DOOR

  1. Very clever, “Knocking on Herot’s Door” a play off of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”.

    Doing real entry tomorrow just thought i’d say that.


    Mr. Long: I’m looking forward to your reply tomorrow…especially given your uncanny ability to recognize a subtle pop culture nod.

    So much for me pitching a no-hitter, huh? (he smiles)

  2. The first thing that caught my attention in “The Monster Grendel” was the name Hrothgar. There was a dwarf named Hrothgar in Eragon!

    In “The Arrival of the Hero,” I noticed that names such as Wulfgar, Beowulf, and the Wulfing warriors all have the base “wulf” in them. All those names belong to powerful figures, so I thought that perhaps “wulf” meant something powerful in those olden times. Then we talked about the “she-wolf” in class today, so maybe that “wulf” refers to the power and mystery associated with the “wolf” of the animal world.

    In “Unferth’s Challenge,” I thought that Beowulf’s story of his battle with all those monsters seemed a bit ridiculous. Sure, monsters are real in this tale, but he sounds like he might be exaggerating the truth a bit. ‘Oh, I fought a bazillion monsters. THAT’S really why I lost!’

    I noticed what anyone would notice in “The Battle with Grendel” – “He twisted in pain, / And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder / Snapped, muscle and bone split”! That’s quite graphic…but I really can imagine it well.

    The main thing that got my attention in “The Monster’s Mother” was the line that says, “For hours he sank through the waves.” Really? Hours? He’s got quite a set of lungs there! But, I suppose that since there are monsters and spells and magic swords, our Beowulf can do anything.

    Okay, I know that this is from Part Two, but I just have to say it! That entire paragraph at the beginning is basically a perfect summary of The Hobbit! There is a dragon (Smaug) with a hoard of golden treasure, and a thief (Bilbo) steals a golden cup (or a precious jewel). Then Beowulf (Gandalf, perhaps?), eleven warriors (or thirteen dwarves), and the little thief all go to the dragon’s lair. Wow. How could Mr. Tolkein possibly NOT have done that on purpose?


    Mr. Long: What comes to mind is first and foremost that you constantly throw your heart and imagination into these responses. That is so refreshing. Thank you!

    Re: what caught your attention:

    1. Do you think Tolkien had read Beowulf?

    2. Nice idea re: the “wulf” and “wolf”. I think this might inspire someone to do some searching to find out!

    3. Yes, lots of exaggeration. Clearly we’re talking about a mythological hero so all rules of ‘calm’ story telling go out the window. And if you look up the word hyperbole you might see why he does it.

    4. Oh, it’s graphic…and that’s because that was the way that warriors had to a) train (mentally) and b) survive/die. There was no gentle way to go through life as a warrior. And the story’s audience knew this/accepted this.

    5. Yes, quite a set of lungs. And it makes you wonder why Grendel’s mother had to even give him a second chance. How long would he have made it in the water without her help? Clearly the distance speaks to how separated her lair was from Herot/the real world. Lots of reasons for this symbolically.

    6. Oh, I definitely think you’re onto something. Just keep in mind: which story came first? (wink)

  3. Student #2 (follow-up)

    Yeah Mr. Tolkein probably had read Beowulf – you’d think that all the great writers have in their heads a basic accumulation of the most classic stories. His trilogy then became a classic story, and other writers started being influenced by it as well.


    Mr. Long: On one level, it is indeed “a basic accumulation of the most classic stories”; on another level, perhaps there is one story that everyone instinctively knows even without reading a single text.

    We’ll get to that possible concept in the coming weeks…

    …which I think you’ll intellectually enjoy and also suddenly see everywhere you turn from that point forward.

  4. “The Monster Grendel”- On line 34-35- “the monster’s thoughts were as quick as his greed or claws.” When I first read it, I thought that Grendel’s greed might lead to his downfall. Also, only when Beowulf grabs Grendel by the claws, Grendel becomes scared. This was also interesting because regardless of who the author (or authors) is, no other part of Grendel is ever described except his claws.

    “The Arrival of the Hero”- line 131, and lines 139-141, “Now go to him as you are, in your armor and helmets.” I liked this line because Wulfgar tells Beowulf and his men to go into Herot completely armed, looking like true warriors and heroes. Maybe after such a long time of terror, Beowulf, resplendent in his armor, looked like the sign of hope the Danes needed.

    “Unferth’s Challenge”- line 305, “Fate saves the living when they drive away death by themselves!” Throughout the entire story, Beowulf and his men put a huge amount of their success in the hands of fate. Also, Beowulf seems to say that when a person prevents themselves from dying, fate protects them. This quote almost seems to contradict itself, because if a person is alone, then doesn’t that mean they are without help from anyone or anything, including fate?

    “The Battle with Grendel”- lines 540-542, “On earth or under the spreading sky, or between the seas, neither south nor north, was there a warrior worthier to rule over men.” Beowulf frequently is seemingly elevated to the status of God, or a god. Yet, in this passage, Beowulf is NOT as great as God, because Beowulf is the greatest on earth, and under the spreading sky, while God is often thought to be in Heaven. This line also reminded of the end of the animated Hercules. After Hercules became a “true” hero, they put him in the stars, because he is truly worthy of it.

    “The Monster’s Mother”- lines 592-593, “a brilliant light burned all around him.” I liked this quote, because it shows how different the mother of Grendel was than Grendel himself. Grendel constantly came to kill and “fight” in the darkness of night, while his mother fights and meets her demise in a room brilliant with light.


    Mr. Long: Much thanks. Here’s what comes to mind:

    1. Great discovery re: Grendel’s claws. Never noticed that. No doubt I’ll be scanning my eyes over the text in the coming week to think this one threw.

    2. Love the “sign of hope” idea you mentioned re: Beowulf’s arrival at Herot. Intriguing how he drops his arms as he enters, also…and that he chooses to also have them on him when he enters the lake/Hall to pursue Grendel.

    3. Fate might push past the existence of a ‘friend’ or ally. It seems — to believers — to rise above people, if that makes sense.

    4. Really appreciated how you looked at the battle b/w B & G. Interesting points re: B being on earth, not in the heavens.

    5. Grendel’s mom is a really intriguing character, both a warrior and a mother. A powerful combo, even if she is ‘evil’ on some fundamental level. But you can’t question her honor as a warrior by bringing him to her hall.

  5. 1. The Monster Grendel-
    “None / of the wise ones regretted his going, much”

    Why wouldn’t they regret him going? Did they really have that much confidence in him, that none of them regretted him going? Or was it for a different reason. It could be that he was so outspoken and overconfident that they wanted to get rid of him. It could be a statement of how they believed in him so much or it could just be hatred.

    2. The Arrival Of the Hero-
    “Too that the monster’s scorn of men / Is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. / Nor will I.”

    I know I brought this up in class but it still strikes me each time I read it. To know that he is comparing himself to a monster and making himself equal to that evil is odd and slightly disturbing. Also to know that he has that kind of confidence in himself shows how he thinks of himself, which is obviously very highly. Then to think of what I now know about how he takes his weapons to destroy the wounded creature, it almost doesn’t make sense. Why would he leave his weapons for the harder task?

    3. Unferth’s Challenge-
    “Let me live in greatness / And courage, or here in this hall welcome / My death!”

    This quote if spoken by a normal person would seem brave, but spoken by Beowulf they seem unnecessary and annoying.

    4. The Battle With Grendel-
    “And his heart laughed, he relished the sight, / Intended to tear the life from those bodies”

    I found this really creepy.

    5. The Monster’s Mother-
    “So fame / Comes to the men who mean to win it / And care about nothing else!”

    If the only way to be famous is to solely focus on fame, who is really willing to pay that price.


    Mr. Long:

    1. Such an interesting point re: the regret (or lack of regret) point. Perhaps the way the ‘young’ hero approaches bravado/arrogance/pride is what causes this? Just a thought…but worth mulling over.

    2. A warrior only truly has his/her honor. Weapons and physical strength are not anywhere close to the internal fortitude/confidence/honor that Beowulf seeks to use instead. Or does it just show arrogance? No doubt that many members of Herot will see it as arrogance…not honor. But what about you?

    3. Love that you pick up on the tone options here. Yes, a normal person would be heard different with these same words. Insightful.

    4. A bit wicked, mmm?

    5. You’ll find the way that Beowulf’s story ends will bring the issue of ‘fame’ back to the table…and yet in a very different way. I think you’ll be impressed by B at that point if you aren’t at this point.

  6. The Monster Grendel

    102-103 “Hail to those who will rise to God, drop off their dead bodies, and seek our Father’s peace!”

    This kinda foreshadows Beowulf dropping the head of Grendel’s mother in front of the king. Not stable enough for an argument, but it was interesting.

    The Arrival of the Hero

    153-155 “I drove five great giants into chains, chased all of that race from the earth.”

    Sounds a little bit like Zeus shutting away the Titans after their revolt, adding another pagan reference to the growing bunch.

    Unferth’s Challenge


    “You murdered your brothers, your own close kin. Words and bright wit won’t help your soul; you’ll suffer hell’s fires, Unferth, forever tormented. ”

    Murdered your brothers? Cain and Abel? This was definitely an eye catcher that raises a lot of theories. Also, Beowulf definitely gave no mercy on Unferth after his challenge by bringing up this very personal matter, talk
    about a slap in the face. Especially in those times.

    The Battle with Grendel

    461-464 “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”

    Whenever God appears to anyone in the Bible, he comes embodied as fire. Just interesting.

    The Monster’s Mother

    590 “And there the water’s heat could not hurt him”

    Since when was lake water hot? Could be the start of an argument of the lake representing Hell.


    Mr. Long: Good call on the scene with Unferth. Clever how he uses the same challenge to turn on Unferth.

    As for the hot lake, suppose this means that there something not-so-good for anyone foolish enough to jump in that water.

  7. “The Monster Grendel”

    I thought it was interesting to look at when the story introduced the characters. Most of the time, the person/people you associate with as the ‘main character’ end up being one of the first people talked about. Here’s the order that I saw of Grendel vs God from lines 1-22:

    “…A powerful monster” (1)
    “The Almighty” (7)
    “that demon that fiend, / Grendel” (16-17)
    monsters born /of Cain” (20-21)
    “By God” (22)

    It’s weird because the author finally introduces their names when they are talked about in relationship to each other. If Grendel is representing Satan, I find it interesting that the words ‘Cain’, a man, and ‘monsters’, separate the names Grendel and God… Something more, or just coincidence…? Don’t you usually see God first and above Satan?… Interesting.

    “The Arrival of the Hero”

    I thought it was interesting that the title has already revealed to us that Beowulf is already the hero. I know that if had not told me that, I would still assume that Beowulf was the hero. Maybe this was emphasizing his heroism just like Beowulf was.

    “Unferth’s Challenge”

    In lines 305-306, Beowulf says, “Fate saves / The living when they drive away death by themselves!” I find this weird and another statement to add to the pile of pagan references. And just one sentence before this statement, he mentions God’s power and help that saved him.

    (320-321) “You murdered your brothers, / your own kin… you’ll suffer in hell’s fires”. That sounds like Cain, and yet like Grendel too. I think this says man or monster, we all sin. Ironically, though, hell is not capitalized.

    “The Battle with Grendel”

    When Grendel is going to Herot, he is “sliding silently”. (397) This makes him seem like a snake, a serpent even. Referring to Satan?

    Also, I thought it was so cool when it said that Grendel had bewitched their swords and weapons when they attack him. I loved this because I know that Cain asked God for protection, because God was banishing him. God agreed and let no man kill him. But, what twists this story is that for one thing, it wasn’t God that protected Grendel, because Grendel bewitched their blades himself. Bewitched. AHA!!! But that’s pagan my good friend! In the Bible its also states that anyone who hurt Cain would receive vengeance…So Grendel is hurt. And then the mother came…

    “The Monster’s Mother”

    One of the most shocking things about this was that he conveniently found a huge magic sword that actually killed her. Why would she have a sword that was “blessed” and not be using it to defend her son’s life? One of her strengths that she could have used, but didn’t. But why?

  8. 1. “The Monster Grendel” – The subtle biblical connection between Grendel and the devil or a devil- like character.

    2. “The Arrival of the Hero” – This was the “light at the end of the tunnel” moment in Beowulf. After being terrorized night after night, Beowulf finally brought the people some hope.

    3. “Unferth’s Challenge”- Despite all of Beowulf’s promise, the destruction of Herot had been so great that there was still a little bit of doubt. Unferth showed that some people needed to see Beowulf triumph to fully believe it.

    4. “The Battle with Grendel”- A major turning point in the story came in this chapter. Grendel, this unstoppable monster, finally felt fear for the first time.

    5. “The Monster’s Mother” – I found it cool that there was much debate over why Grendel’s mother sort of saved Beowulf before they fought.

    – I thought I would expand on my last comment about what Grendel’s mother’s motives were for helping Beowulf.

    One side argued that maybe she wasn’t such a heartless creature after all. Her child had been mercilessly killed, with his arm being paraded around as a prop, and she was understandably angry. Yet, she still helped the man who murdered her child escape from death.

    On the other hand, I also thought that maybe she wasn’t trying to necessarily help Beowulf. If she was going to kill him, it was going to be fair and square. She didn’t want to take advantage of him when he was week. This was a man who was celebrated as being unbeatable and the best there ever was, so maybe she felt like he needed to be at his best so if she ended his life, it would truly show how much power she really had.

  9. 1. ~“The Monster Grendel”~
    Lines 91-94, “Made heathen vows, hoping for Hell’s support, the Devil’s guidance in driving their affliction off.” I thought that line was pretty ironic seeing how Grendel could be seen as the servant of the Devil because he is the son of Cain.

    2. ~“The Arrival of the Hero”~
    Line 132, “But leave your battle-shields here, and your spears.” This reminds of the scene in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers when Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas are about to enter the throne room of Théoden of Rohan and are asked to leave their weapons behind. Wulfgar says that the purpose of this is to “let them lie waiting for the promises your words may make”, but it could also have been for protective purposes, who would let foreign warriors into their king’s throne room with their weapons at hand?

    3. ~“Unferth’s Challenge”~
    Lines 293-296, “I treated them [the sea monsters] politely, offering the edge of my razor-sharp sword. But the feast, I think, did not please them, filled their evil bellies with no-banquet rich food.” Whenever I read this line it makes me laugh, even Beowulf uses some sarcasm.

    4. ~“The Battle with Grendel”~
    Lines 521-534, “men hurrying to behold the monster’s great staggering tracks. They gaped with no sense of sorrow, felt no regret for his suffering…old and young rejoiced” The tone of these lines seems to almost be sympathetic to Grendel. Now that there is no fear of him, the words contain a bit of sorrow for the great monster.

    5. ~“The Monster’s Mother”~
    Lines 626-631, “the point could not touch him. He’d have traveled to the bottom of the earth…and died there, if that shining woven metal had not helped-and Holy God, who sent him victory, gave judgment for truth and right”. The wording makes me suspect divine intervention. He had shining woven metal, shining because it is imbued with the Light? “Holy God…sent him victory, gave judgment for truth and right”, has God preordained that this clash of foes will end with the “truth and right” winning?

  10. Extra: Iwas reading the pages before and I came up with info. Was Beowulf considered a druid in the story? Another thing I saw was that Druids made sacrifices to gods. Is that why Beowulf let his comrade die before Grendel?

    1. The Monster Grendel
    Never/ dared to touch king Hrothgar’s glorious throne protected by God

    Why wouldn’t Grendel kill the king. He can easily kill him and get rid of the kingdom but he is held back by Hrothgar’s love from God? What does this make Hrothgar? because everyone didnt do bad like Grendel. Shouldn’t the people as well recieve God’s love?

    2. Arrival of a hero
    Death was my errand and the fate/they had earned

    If Beowulf believes in fate, he has no religion or pagan religion, yet they have bible references in the story.

    3.Unferth’s challenge
    You murdered your brother’s your close kin

    Is Unferth the”Cain” in this story? He killed his own brothers didnt he?

    4. Battle with Grendel
    Snatched the first geat

    Why would Beowulf sacrifice his own men?

    5. The Monster’s mother
    But so massive that no ordinary man could lift

    This is like him swimming in the lake for hours. These are all impossible things.

  11. The Monster Grendel-What I found the most interesting in this segment was the author’s use of dark and light. It seems to me that he alternates between using dark, gloomy descriptions and light, hopeful images.

    The Arrival of the Hero-What stuck out to me was how Beowulf seems to almost lift everyone up after he arrives. I thought that Hrothgar and his people would’ve assumed that he was going to die from the countless deaths of the other heroes and warriors.

    Unferth’s Challenge-When Unferth challenges Beowulf, he could’ve told his story about the swim with Brecca and made it short and to the point. But the very fact that he goes and on and on saying every little detail and making dramatic statements about himself makes it almost seem like he’s bragging, which he probably is.

    The Battle with Grendel-What stuck out to me in this chapter was the way Beowulf fought Grendel with only his hand. This shows how honorable he is as a warrior.

    The Monster’s Mother-When the monster’s mother takes Beowulf to her lair to fight him, it interested me why she did this. Although the story portrays her as an evil, malicious being, saving Beowulf from drowning in the water shows that she at least has some honor, maybe even a little compassion.

    Well the thing that stuck out to me the MOST wasn’t from just an individual chapter. That’s why I couldn’t explain or write this above

    Anyway, what stuck out to me was Beowulf’s own name in comparison with how he acts and behaves throughout the ENTIRE story. When we first read about the arrival of Beowulf I took a mental note about his name, thinking that it might be important for future reference. And as the story goes along I started to see a pattern in the way that Beowulf behaved and made decisions. Beowulf’s name has the word wulf in it which sounds like “wolf”. I’ve heard of the saying about the “lone wolf” always wanting to be separate from the pack and by himself. Taking this into consideration each battle or conflict that Beowulf encounters as the story goes on, he always fights the battle by himself. He never asks his men to aid him in any sort of way and whenever they offer to help him he refuses and tells them to stay back. It’s only when Beowulf is helpless, which is towards the end, that he actually asks his comrade to help him win. Maybe I’m looking a little too much into the details of this story, but that was just my two cents.

  12. There are some places where I mention in my “other book”.

    I simply mean that I have another book called Beowulf by translator Seamus Heaney. It is the same story as the one we are reading now except mine is more complex and detailed. It is also written in old English on the left side of the page and has a picture of a chain mail on the cover. It also shows the royal family trees of the Dane/Shieldings, the Geats, and the Swedes.

    “The Monster Grendel” – “… A powerful monster, living down in the darkness, growled in pain, inpatient as day after day the music rang Loud in that hall” (line 1-3). I was wondering what Grendel’s child life was like. Was Grendel born being able to be hurt by music because he was the descendent of Cain or did something happen in his unhappy childhood that makes him hates music because it makes him remember about that childhood moment making him feel hurt? For example, Grendel was always uninvited to parties with music and was rejected when he asked if he could go. So, every time he hears music, it reminds him of parties and the pain of being unwanted and looking hideous. For those of you who have seen or read Wicked or Shrek, you know that there is always another side of the story, since generally the people who consider to be bad or evil do not consider themselves that way. It is also not only fiction but even the people we put to jail think that way or at least some of them do. I am curious to know what John Gardner wrote on Grendel’s point of view.

    “The Arrival of the Hero” – I think that Hrothgar and some of the Danes had at least a little fear of Beowulf and his fourteen men who is supposed to be there to “repay Hrothgar a favor” along with a new sense of hope. Since the Geats are Vikings, their ship must have looked at least a bit fearful. Fear from the idea that Beowulf and his men was actually there to take over their land for the king of the Geats. However, if that was the case, they would probably not want to deal with Grendel, so they would probably be there to plunder rather than actually ruling the kingdom. Then again, Higlac might decide to put his enemies in Herot Hall at night for Grendel. This could also be one of the reasons why Unferth challenged him. Unferth wanted to tell Beowulf that he was not the greatest and could be defeated if Beowulf decides to try to conquer the Danes. Later, he might have given Beowulf his sword, Hrunting, after he realized Beowulf had not try to conquer them after defeating Grendel and that he is probably actually capable of defeating Grendel’s mother. Of course Hrunting ended up useless against Grendel’s mother but at least Beowulf did not embarrass Unferth by telling him that the sword was useless when he gave the sword back.

    “Unferth’s challenge” – I thought it was interesting that Welthow (also written as Wealhtheow) was the only woman mentioned in this story, named or not. In my other book, I believe there were only two other women’s names mentioned. If there were any other women mentioned, they were either referred to as someone’s wife, daughter or mother. At this time period, I believe I was told that women were not very important. In the Viking’s culture, when a warrior dies, he is placed on a ship with all of his belongings especially his treasures. His belongings also includes his wife and slaves. Once the ship is filled, the Vikings would set it on fire and let it set sail. Please do not quote me on the Viking’s culture. There might be some little details I did not get right. In the movie version of Beowulf that I saw, Hrothgar had a daughter. In my version of the book, he had a daughter but her name was Freawaru not whatever they called her in the movie.

    “The Battle with Grendel” – “Grendel’s one thought was to run from Beowulf”. I remember one of my teachers telling my class that “a bully is a coward” whether we believed it or not. Then, I thought if you look at it a certain way, you could look at Grendel being a bully… a very dangerous bully. So, I thought why is Grendel being a bully. Again this makes me want to know Grendel’s side of the story although I am still flexible at Grendel just simply being pure evil.

    “The Monster’s Mother” – Like Student 2, the part that got my attention was when it said “For hours, he sank through the waves.” (line 572). At first I was thinking that is impossible and that it was over exaggerating or he has too much power to even be completely human like superheroes on T.V. shows. My other book did not say for hours but did say it was the lake was deep and did not capture my attention as much as the version we are reading now. Then I remembered that this was not the only part of the story where it talked about Beowulf having unbelievable strength. In “The Battle with Grendel”, it said “nowhere on earth Had he met a man whose hands were harder” (433-434) and “the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped” (497-498). In my other book, it actually says “With the strength of thirty in the grip of each hand” (other book – line 380-381). Then, I also remembered that the people from the middle ages probably did not know that if you are completely human, you can only stop breathing for about three min. before you are dead and will probably black out before that even happens.

  13. 1- he was spawned in that slime conceived by a pair of monsters born of cain..

    2- i alone with the help of my men may purge all evil from this hall.

    3- no man swims in the sea as i can no strenght is a match for mine.

    4- Grendel snacthed the geat he came to… he was instantly seized himself as claws bent back and Beowulf leaned up on one arm.

    5- then she carried armor and sword and all to her home.

    (5) -Instead of killing him when he was weak she gave him a fair fight. If she was so evil why would she give him a chance to fight? This kind of changed everything from being good versus evil to something much more ambigious.

  14. (I was a little confused on the directions because you said to list things beyond the text and then write about one of them, but I don’t know how to show how something was deeper without writing a couple of sentences. Two is the one I decided to elaborate the most on, if that counts. I’m sorry if I didn’t follow the directions correctly.)

    1)19-21:”He was spawned in that slime/Conceived by a pair of those monsters born/Of Cain.” This indicates that he was born evil because since he came from Cain he was automatically bad. But later when it’s mentioned he has a mother and feelings, he becomes easier to relate to. It’s like when you compared Grendel to Hitler because both of them were once children. If you or me or anyone else had been born into the same family as Hitler and lived his life exactly, we would’ve turned out in the exact same way as he did. My point is this line almost sets him up to seem misunderstood, which I thought was interesting.

    *2)211-212:”Surely the Lord Almighty/Could stop his madness.” I know we talked about the use of “Almighty” in class and I’m not sure if we wrapped that up or not, but something I noticed here and in the other places “Almighty” was used, was that when it’s said it’s speaking of how powerful God is. On line 7 it says, “The Almighty making the earth” and on 491, “What it meant/To feud with the Almighty God”. Maybe this is so because not only is almighty a striking word, but it’s used often in the Bible, including the Nicene Creed. This could scare people into converting, and then the appearance of the word could remind them of the true meaning of it. Or I could be completely wrong, but it’s something I noticed.

    3)364-369:”When we crossed the sea, my comrades/And I,…And courage, or here in this hall welcome/My death!” One of the book’s questions asked about this line and what it revealed about his character. This might have been meant to show how noble and honorable he was, but I didn’t see it that way. He tells his men to come with him on this journey, to bring their weapons, to stay with him in the hall. Yet he knows that he is going to win this fight and that by leaving weapons out of it he will be the only one able to defeat Grendel. To me it seems that his men are purely for show and P.R., and that says something very dishonorable to me.

    4)418:”Of his last human supper.” Either representation of the last supper in the Bible (but that’s in the New Testament) or simply foreshadowing of Grendel’s death.

    5) 651-652: “His heart still angry. He was hunting another/Dead monster.” Sound familiar? Grendel experienced the exact same thing. He killed once and was still filled with hate, so he came back and killed again and again. Perhaps Beowulf and Grendel are more alike than they think…

  15. “The Monster Grendel”
    Line 74: “That shadow of death hunted in the darkness,” was a quote that seemed strange to me. We talked about it a lot in class, how Grendel only attacked at night when the victims were helpless. He is a bit of a coward of himself, which usually isn’t the case in these kinds of stories. The villain is usually portrayed as a feared character who faces his enemies. But Grendel hunts in the dark and doesn’t confront his victims. So that kind of stood out to me.

    “The Arrival of the Hero”
    Lines 155- 159: “I swam in the blackness of night, hunting monsters out of the ocean, and killing them one by one; death was my errand and the fate they had earned.” When Beowulf is telling this to King Hrothgar, he seems to be full of himself. I know we have made this point numerous times in class, but his arrogance really stands out in the quote. Near the beginning of the story, Beowulf is more devoted to his own fame than actually helping people.

    “Unferth’s Challenge”
    Lines 318- 321: “Neither he nor you can match me—and I mean no boast, have announced no more than I know to be true. And there’s more: You murdered your brothers, your own close kin.” I find it hypocritical that Beowulf says this to Unferth when, in a later section, he sits back and watches one of his own men is brutally eaten by Grendel.

    “The Battle with Grendel”
    Lines 444- 446: “The infamous killer fought for his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat, desiring nothing but escape.” When I first read this, I felt some sorrow for Grendel. I know he was a monster, but Beowulf had ripped his arm off and brutally injured him. The tables had turned when Beowulf came and fought him. He was the victim now, and Beowulf was officially a hero of the Danes. I thought it was a bit ironic.

    “The Monster’s Mother”
    Lines 578- 583: “She welcomed him in her claws…Then she carried him, armor an sword and all, to her home.” This act from Grendel’s mother was more heroic than anything Beowulf had done so far. Though she had the opportunity to kill him then and there, she gave him a fair fight. Beowulf had gone to her home wanting to kill her and her son, and she turned out to be the one with more courage. I saw both Beowulf and Grendel’s mother differently after I read this.

  16. The Monster Grendel: I thought it was so strange the way that this strong and ferocious monster was as affected by poetic music. Also I continuously wondered why Grendel believed it would do any good to eat the men of Herot when they did not even know what crime they had committed. This illustrates the almost ignorance of Grendel in that though killing theses individuals gave him some satisfaction it truly did not solve his original problem. Perhaps this illustrates that as a society we are too quick to punish others for our own satisfaction rather then actually solving the problem.

    The Arrival of the Hero: The first thing that caught my eye in this section was within the opening paragraph. I thought it was interesting the way Wulfgar asked Beowulf and his men to set their weapons aside before going in to see the king. This is quite intelligent because this ensures the king’s safety but the poetic fashion in which Wulfgar delivered this line does not imply an attempt to protect the king. I feel as though Wulfgar is comparable to a secret service or bodyguard. And this also shows that perhaps they were not as trusting of Beowulf as they proclaimed in the beginning.

    Unferth’s Challenge: The conflict between Unferth and Beowulf was harsh and interesting. I found it very interesting that even though Beowulf claims, “No man swims in the sea as I can, no strength is a match for mine” (266-267) he never truly admits who won the race between himself and Brecca. Everything Beowulf tells of killing monsters and helping Brecca may be true but perhaps Brecca did reach shore before Beowulf technically “winning” the challenge.

    The battle with Grendel: When I first read this section I was shocked that Beowulf allowed Grendel to eat one of his men before attacking him. This may have been a necessary tactic in defeating the monster but it seems cruel. If Beowulf truly is there to save the people why would he not be sensitive to the killing of one of his own?

    The Monster’s Mother: “But Beowulf longed only for fame, leaped back into battle” (605-607). This line reinforced my feeling that Beowulf is too concerned with fame and truly being labeled “a hero”. However because he was attempting to save Herot from more attacks perhaps his motivation doesn’t matter. This is comparable to current day in that most individuals want to be perceived as a good person and this motivates many great actions. Though this may be a selfish goal, this could be said of all goals because they are always meant to mainly benefit the individual to which they belong.

    The Final Battle: “Beowulf’s Barrow” is a title that once again underlines Beowulf’s need for fame and recognition. It is odd to me that while he is dying what seems to be a painful death he has time to explain how he wants his funeral, what to do with his ashes and the location he wants to bear his name. This last section should have been filled with underlining messages and the meaning of the story, but instead we read about funeral plans.

  17. 1. The Monster Grendel

    “The monster’s
    Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws.”

    Isn’t this the same for all monsters? They all act quick, not thinking about anything they do. Or what they are doing.

    2. The Arrival of the Hero

    “That I, alone, and with the help of my men”

    Very weird statement, I alone but with the help of my men. Its almost as if he wants the credit but has to have the help of others.

    3. Unferth’s Challenge

    “There was the sound of laughter, and the cheerful clanking
    Of cups, and pleasant words”

    Its almost very strange, how they are celebrating something so big when they don’t even know if Bewolf will be able to handle Grendel.

    4. The Battle with Grendel

    “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
    Him down, hands and feet; death”

    We have talked about this part of the book multiple times in class, but it still catches my attention every time I read it. I cant believe he calls himself a hero but yet he lets another man die.

    5. The Monster’s Mother

    “Then she carried him, armor
    And sword and all, to her home he struggled
    To fee his weapon, and failed.”

    This shows the ignorance of Bewolf as he goes back to fight a dying Bewolf but the honorable she-wolf carrying him to her home, doing the right thing after all Bewolf had done to her family.

    The Battle with Grendel, quote catches me the most. Bewolf calls himself a hero, but somehow allows one of his warriors to die while he sets up his plan to defeat Grendel. Its almost as if Bewolf does sacrifices his own man for his great scheme. If he allows one man to die, no one will remember that in the long run. All the people will remember is how he defeated Bewolf. No one will remember he allowed one of his warriors to die, but it was the most important part of the plan. Nothing would have happened the way it did he would not allowed for the death of his man.

  18. “The Monster Grendel”
    What I noticed was the quote “their exile was bitter” it is never clear whether this exile was bitter just for the ‘evil’ critters or if it was also bitter (to allude to the bible) for God or the ‘good’ ones as well. If this truly is an allusion, than God (the good guys) would be bitter for having to send out those who he/they cared about and that would reinforce the idea that the monk/storyteller was trying to convey Christian ideals into the story. Does that make sense?

    “The Arrival of the Hero”
    What I thought was absolutely awesome was how Beowulf seems to fear nothing he indicates lines 175-189 that he does not fear death nor wants anyone to mourn his own. This reminds me of in “Lord of the Rings; Return of the King” when Aragorn says “I do not fear death!” as he enters the ‘tomb’ of the men (of the mountain) who betrayed his ancestors. BTW I am a huge (!) Lord of the Rings fan, they are the best movies and come in second place for best books (under Harry Potter of course!)

    “Unferth’s Challenge”
    What really interested me in this chapter was line 305-306, “Fate saves the living when they drive away death by themselves!”
    I loved this because it explains a little of Beowulf’s own philosophy. Kind of what makes him so brave and heroic. It also indicates that Beowulf believes in fate making him a pagan! And this eliminates any chance of Beowulf himself believing that he is ‘God’s warrior’. So that only leaves it to the story teller to try and convince his audience through imagery and inserting his own opinion that Beowulf is indeed ‘God’s Warrior’.

    “The Battle with Grendel”
    What I LOVE and this is true in “The Monster Grendel” as well is how the author switches to Grendel’s point of view whenever the monster is mentioned. I find this interesting because any story with a bad guy (and really is there a story without a bad guy?) the author never tells the story from the antagonist’s point of view. This is because you tend to side with the person whose view you are being told. This almost indicates the monk wants the reader to consider Grendel’s point of view. Stating Grendel has much more depth than just the ‘bad guy’ he obviously is a symbolic character in which all audiences can relate.

    “The Monster’s Mother”
    Love what student three said about the contrast in leitmotifs of light and dark associated with Grendel and his Mother. Great point! Really makes you realize these are not just flat characters put in the story so Beowulf will have something to kill and look heroic while doing it. They have to represent something deeper and more meaningful…
    Another quote that really stuck out to me was line 604-605 “…for the first time in years of being worn to war it would earn him no glory”
    Wow, this leads the reader to believe that these monsters are testing Beowulf way beyond his physical limits. Also the way his weapons are failing him it shows that Beowulf has to be more than just look the part of hero to succeed.

  19. Student #16 (revisions)

    I made a few mistakes in my previous blog response:

    -This shows the ignorance of Beowulf as he goes back to fight a dying -Grendel- but the honorable she-wolf carrying him to her home, doing the right thing after all Beowulf had done to her family

    -All the people will remember is how he defeated -Grendel-.

  20. 1. The Monster Grendel
    ” The Almighty drove Those demons out, and their exile was bitter, Shut away from men; they split Into a thousand forms of evil – spirits And fiends, goblins, monsters, giants, A brood forever opposing the Lord’s Will, and again and again defeated.” This is interesting because it seems figurative not literal. It seems like a metaphor for something else. I think it’s referring to the several different vices out there today. Those monsters, and goblins and spirits could embody sin figuratively. Or they could be the corrupters of mankind who influence people to sin.

    2. The Arrival of the Hero
    “My Lord Higlac Might think less of me if I let my sword Go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid Behind some Broad linen shield: My hands Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life Against the monster.”
    When I was first reading this story I was amazed. I thought that it was completely unbelievable that Beowulf would want to fight such a menacing monster by hand. when I learned later on that the only way to fight Grendel was by hand, due to the fact that he is invincible to weapons I started to think less of Beowulf. He came off as arrogant and cheap. He was making such a big deal of something that he had to do anyway. I started to think whether or not he was a true hero.

    3. Unferth’s Challenge
    ” No man swims in the sea – Left it floating lifeless in the sea.” This seems like a tall tale. This when I started to see Beowulf as arrogant and I started to see similarities between him and Odysseus. I started to doubt this story when he went too far with it. He seems more flawed at this point and it seems that that in this story there will be reparations for his haughtiness.

    4. Battle with Grendel
    “Human Eyes were watching his evil steps, – Snapping life shut.” I couldn’t believe that Beowulf let one of his own men die when he was watching. It seemed unnecessary, that man didn’t have to die and it got me questioning the heroism of Beowulf once again. This story seemed less like an epic story of Good vs. Evil and more of a story of Beowulf fighting demons, Grendel on the outside and his own personal demons deep inside of himself.

    5. Monster’s Mother
    ” But Beowulf Longed only for fame” When I saw this quote it confirmed everything that I had thought earlier. Beowulf does good deeds for his own ego, not to help others like a true hero. This went above arrogance and pride. This made everything he supposedly stood for seem shallow and he stopped being a hero and started to be an egomaniac.

  21. The Monster Grendel:
    “The monster’s thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws:” This quote sucked me in. I could really picture Grendel picking his victims. I felt fear for the unsuspecting and powerless sleepers.

    The Arrival of the Hero:
    “I drove five great giants into chains, chased all of that race from the earth.” As someone else pointed out earlier, this reminded me of Greek mythology. I believe this compares Beowulf to Zeus intentionally. It shows how godly Beowulf truly is and can beat any creature.

    Unferth’s Challenge:
    “And when the sun comes up again, opening another bright day from the south, anyone in Denmark may enter this hall: That evil will be gone!” I thought this was a good example of a leitmotif. When evil comes it is night. The sun in the new day shows that the evil is gone and will not appear again.

    The Battle with Grendel:
    “Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty hills and bogs, bearing God’s hatred, Grendel came hoping to kill anyone he could trap on this trip to high Herot.” I don’t think that Grendel is meant to portray the devil. I think he instead represents man without God. He travels up to Herot, a happy place because they do have God, to kill them because he feels “left out”. I think that the writer calls Herot “high Herot” to imply vaguely that the town has God.

    The Monster’s Mother:
    “She welcomed him in her claws…she carried him armor and sword and all, to her home…” My class brought up that she wasn’t as evil because she let it be a “fair fight,” I disagree. I think she only wanted it to be a fair fight so she could beat Beowulf, the man who killed her son, at his best. She wouldn’t have felt as satisfied if she killed him when he was drowning and therefore a weak version of himself.

  22. Student 2 and I discuss practically everything we study and she captured many of our collective thoughts in her blog entry. I’ll add a few additional ones though.

    In “The Monster Grendel,” the 1st thing I noticed was the name of the king and the description of his great hall. The king’s name “Hrothgar” reminded me of the dwarven king of the same name in Eragon. But when reading the description of Hrothgar’s great hall in Beowulf, I was reminded of Théoden’s Golden Hall in Lord of the Rings. The Golden Hall is Théoden’s awe-inspiring home. The two halls are both majestic, but in addition, they were both deserted because of monsters (Grendel and Saruman).

    In “The Arrival of the Hero” I was amazed that Beowulf chose not to use the plethora of weapons at his disposal. On the one hand, I was impressed with the sense of honor he displayed by giving Grendel a fair fight. Yet on the other hand, his lust for glory by fighting bare-handed seemed selfish.

    In “Unferth’s Challenge” I was appalled that Beowulf told the Danes that they were pansies and the Danes just took it. (As a Dane myself, I am personally insulted!) In fact, Hrothgar “sat happily listening” to Beowulf’s rant. I mean if you had any pride in your land (and they did) wouldn’t you get quite angry at this Geat who just said that your people are wimps. Also in this section, the pagan concept of “fate” begins to be manifest when Beowulf describes fighting the beast in the sea.

    The first thing I noticed in “The Battle with Grendel” was that Grendel bore “God’s hatred.” “God” is capitalized, so it isn’t just talking about “pagan” gods, it is talking about the all powerful “Biblical” God. This continues the contrast seen throughout the epic of paganism and monotheism.

    In “The Monster’s Mother,” one of society’s basic relationships is illustrated… that of mother and child. The “Mighty Water Witch,” like mothers of most species might, stepped in to defend her mortally wounded son. In addition, the theme of “honor” was continued from Beowulf’s example when the She-Wolf carried Beowulf from the water, where he was handicapped, to a “battle hall” where he could fight.

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