European Humanities
Fall 2011
Mr. Spragins
Beowulf Creative Writing Assignment

Beowulf was written in Saxon England sometime between the fifth and the tenth century. This epic poem is the first great work of English literature, but it is written in a language that few of us will recognize as English. In the 5th c. Viking tribes from Northern Europe invaded and conquered much of the Eastern half of England. Over time their Saxon language mixed with the Celtic and Latin dialects of the native Britains to create Old English. The Beowulf poet captures the character of a primitive Britain just emerging from the barbarism that had enveloped society after the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Carefully read the excerpt from Seamus Heaney's translation of part one of Beowulf, particularly the concluding section which tells of the great hero Beowulf's wrestling match with the nightmare creature Grendel.

Tell the tale of the events leading to the climactic arm wrestling match between Beowulf and Grendel, only do so from the monster's point of view. What motives might have inspired Grendel's series of horrific midnight murders? How does this outsider regard the proto-Christian society blossoming in the Danish hall of Heorot?