**Lines 1-65 (Prologue)
The generations before the reign Hrothgar, the great King of the Danes and
builder of the mead-hall Heorot
- Shield Sheafson, the first Christian ruler (see l.17)
- The Viking Funeral of Shield Sheafson (25-53)
- Beow, Halfdane and finally Hrothgar
These warriors carved out a kingdom in these icy, northern lands through
conquest. They are fighters who other warriors will stand beside and hold the
**Lines 65-88 The
Construction of Heorot: the wooden lodge, mead hall built for reveling
through the deep northern winter.
three generations of war under Beow and Halfdane, Hrothgar achieves peace. He
builds Heorot as a place where peace can be celebrated: honoring his allies
and subjects with feasts, gifts, and entertainments (heroic poems!).
Happy as the singer is to speak of Heorot's magnificence, he still laments
that the hall will someday burn; it's doom abides.
Heorot was the name
he had settled on it, whose utterance was law.
Nor did he renege, but doled out rings
and torques at the table. The hall towered,
its gables wide and high and awaiting
a barbarous burning. That doom abided,
but in time it would come: the killer instinct
unleashed among in-laws, the blood-lust rampant.(79-86)
What kind of Christianity is this? Which religion still predominates in
the early days of the Christianity in Europe’s north country?
Grendel's bitter anger: the clan of Cain
is Grendel? Where does he come from? The writer identifies him as one of
Cain's clan, but it sounds almost as if he is applying the Bible to an entity
far older than Cain. Who did the villagers think Grendel was before
the coming of the Christians?
What infuriates Grendel about Heorot Hall?
**Lines 115-145 Grendel's
is uncanny about the nature of Grendel's raids? When do they take place? Why
are the results undiscovered until morning? Where does Grendel really reside?
monster will meet no civilized method of redressing his wrong: no
reparations, no payment for hostages, no end to the blood feud. (151) For
twelve winters, the Danes suffer Grendel’s raids. In despair, the
people turn again to their pagan gods and pray that the killer of souls
might come to their aid. (175) The people endure 'panic after dark' as the
**Lines 195-230 (Heaney Reading his Translation) Beowulf
from another country across the seas (Geatland) hears tell of Hrothgar's
troubles at the great hall of Heorot, and he vows to come to their aid. Why?
The symbolism that accompanies his voyage
over the sea and his arrival in the Dane land: the coming of a Christian
Lines 230-300 The
watchman on guard at the coastal bluff is amazed at the open and fearless way
that this war-like party has arrived on Hrothgar's lands. He questions the
leader Beowulf with courtesy but firmness. Beowulf
responds directly. He announces that he has come to do what the
Danes could not: fight and defeat this corpse-maker.
Lines 300-330 The march
to Heorot and arrival in the great hall.
Lines 330-355 The
Courteous Welcome: Wulfgar asks Beowulf of the reasons for his visit
in such war-like garb.
Hrothgar agrees to meet with this warrior, saying that he has heard marvelous
tales of the strength in the grip of his hand.
Lines 400-455 Beowulf's
speech to Hrothgar: he vows to fight Grendel in single combat, hand to hand.
Hrothgar remembers times in the past when he and Beowulf's father had come to
each other's aid. He agrees to allow Beowulf to do battle for the honor of
his hall and for his own renown, and promises rich payment in treasure if he
succeeds in killing the monster. None of his warriors have been successful.
Unferth, a Dane, insults Beowulf by questioning the truth of one of his
legendary feats, the swimming contest with Breca.
Beowulf corrects Unferth, telling the tale of the swimming match and his own
defeat of the sea monsters that had preyed on the ships in the North Seas. He
concludes by reminding the Danes that none of their champions have survived a
night in the hall with Grendel on the prowl, but he will face the monster
**Lines 605-660 Queen
Wealhtheow calms the tension by entering the hall and passing the ale-cup for
all to drink from. Beowulf makes a formal boast when he has drunk from the
cup that he will free Heorot from Grendel or die in the attempt.
Hrothgar and his Queen retire for the night, confident that the King of Glory
has brought them a champion who will be a match for Grendel.
**Lines 688-730 (Grendel's Approach) Beowulf and the Geat
warriors bed down for the night in the hall. Grendel makes his uncanny
springing locks, doors bursting open, the sleeping warriors at his mercy- all
except Beowulf who remains vigilant, silently eyeing the monster's approach.
Grendel kills one of Beowulf's men, but the hero waits for the perfect moment
to strike, and when he does he latches on to the monster's arm and holds him
with his grip. The Hall quakes and booms with the violence of their struggle.
Beowulf's men try to aid their champion, but their swords are of no use
against the monster's charmed hide.
**Lines 810-851 Beowulf
finally wrenches Grendel's arm from his shoulder, and the monster flees into
the night, mortally wounded.