King Hrothgar of Denmark has built a great mead-hall, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by the scops. But a terrible monster, Grendel, frightens the Danes every night, killing them. Grendel’s menace continues for twelve years, till Beowulf, a young Warrior, decides to sail to Denmark with a small company of men, determined to defeat Grendel.
Beowulf sleeps in the Hall and he fights with the monster in a hand-to-hand combats and mortally injures him. Grendel escapes and dies soon after.
But another threat is approaching.
Grendel’s mother, who lives in a lake, comes to Heorot seeking revenge for her son.
Beowulf travels to the lake, where he dives into the water and succeeds in killing Grendel’s mother with a sword forged for a giant; then, finding Grendel’s corpse, decapitates it and brings the head to Hrothgar.
Beowulf sails back to Geatland and later he ascends to the throne of the Geats. He rules wisely for 50 years.
dragon lies guarding its treasure. That dragon begins to kill the Geats. Beowulf fights the fire dragon and kills the monster, but he is mortally wounded. His warriors burn his body on a huge funeral pyre and then bury him in a barrow overlooking the sea.
Beowulf is written in Old English and is the oldest surviving epic poem in the English language.
Although historical elements run through the poem, both the hero and the story are fiction.
Beowulf was probably composed as an elegy for a King; it describes a Germanic Warrior society, in which the relationship between the King and his thanes is founded on provision and service; it’s a world ruled by fate and destiny.
-The Mysteries of Beowulf-
The principal mystery is why a Poem whit a Scandinavian hero exists in Old English.
Also Beowulf was composed in a Christianised England, but the only biblical references are to the Old Testament and Christ is never mentioned.
-Why Beowulf is Epic-
Beowulf is an Epic because the setting of the story covers great lands and far off places and the action consists of brave deeds. The struggles the Poem describes are the strength of heart and spirit, the truth and the light against dark power.
-The language of Epic Style-
Beowulf contains the typical elements of Epic Style. There is repetition: speeches are often followed by such phrases as “thus he spoke” to emphasize that the words are those of a character and not of the narrator. The language is elevated.