ENG 1122A – Lecture 5
Hildeburh – Wealtheow (Hrothgar’s queen, loses her children in battle) – Grendel’s
Mom (Tries to get vengeance, ends up dead)
Women who appear periodically in the Beowulf, suffer. Their appearances remind
you that from some perspectives, heroism isn’t always the greatest.
Humble in the first half, proud in the second half
There are a number of times in the first passage when Beowulf tells people how
great he is. Humility in the second half; when he is dying he passes on his armor,
talking about if he ever had a son. In the first half, he is 18, in the second part, he is
older (around 50 years).
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- When you defeat Grendel, celebration follows. When you defeat Grendel’s
mother, celebration follows. On this occasion, although they are celebrating,
you can anticipate that there are parts of this celebration that won’t be that
happy. Every time you defeat a monster, there is more trouble. These victory
celebrations are not celebrations because a monster always comes back.
When Hrothgar gives his sermon, he is prompted by victory, holding the hilt
of a sword. While Beowulf is in the cave killing Grendel’s mother, he took the
sword from her (who got it from the giants). The giants are now dead, who
were so mighty that they challenged God and were destroyed. Grendel’s
mother was also once mighty, and ended up killed. The sword was once a
huge sword, but the blade melted and now all that’s left is the hilt. It’s no
- Repetition with variation. Giants, mighty, gone. Grendel’s mother, mighty,
gone. Sword, mighty, gone.
- Hrothgar doesn’t want the sword. He was a great ruler. He built up a
wonderful Kingdom in Denmark. He was culminating. At the time that the
Beowulf’s action begins, Hrothgar was conflicted because there was nothing
he could do about Grendel invading his hall. When he can’t do anything about
it, he is a helpless king. He is an old king with no potency. When it starts out,
he is in old condition. (Similar situation to the giants, Grendel’s mother,
sword). Once mighty, now considerably down.
- His sermon, is an important point in the poem. It sums up his contrast in the
first half in the poem between a young