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Simplified Beowulf Essay Guide: Themes, Topics, and Examples

By Evans Dec 02 2020

Beowulf is a piece of English literature depicting Beowulf's feats and life. He is a courageous legendary warrior who conquered beasts and helped people. Although the poem used alliteration as the literary device that creates rhythm and unity. Beowulf poem can be hard to interpret and understand right away. Fortunately, one of our expert writers has simplified by giving you a quick summary, plot and outlines, essay topics, examples, and themes.

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Summary of the Poem

In the poem, Beowulf encounters three beasts and defeats them. The section below discusses each of them as a different life milestone and performance as a great warrior and commander.

First Battle

Grendel, a monster, terrorizes Hrothgar together with his warriors. The monster cannot stand happiness and joy and punishes people for celebrating. Moreover, he feasts on Hrothgar's men every day.

A few years ago, Heorat saved Ecgtheow, Beowulf's father, from death. Immediately, Beowulf hears about the Heorot's trouble, together with fourteen men, he sets to leave his homeland and assist Hrothgar.

Hrothgar's men welcome Beowulf, and they feast. When everyone is sleeping, the monster comes to Heorot. He attacks the mead-hall and kills one of Beowulf's men. Then he attempts to kill and eat Beowulf but fails. Instead, Beowulf gets hold of his hand and rips it off his body from the shoulder. Severely injured, the monster flees. Men praise Beowulf, and, in the glory, Beowulf hangs Grendel's claw off the ceiling.

Second Battle

After defeating the ogre, people celebrate, play music, drink, and eat delicious food.  Additionally, Hrothgar and his wife award Beowulf a golden collar.

Everyone sleeps after the celebrations, and Grendel's mother, a water witch, interrupts their peace. She comes to seek vengeance against Beowulf. She takes her son's arm off the ceiling and kidnaps Aeschere while all people are sleeping.

The following day, Beowulf and his men leave in search of the water witch. While looking for the tracks, they notice Aeschere's head on a mountain and follow the lead. Beowulf gets into the cave and finds the witch. She drags him to the lake, and they start fighting. Her attacks do not overpower Beowulf. Thanks to his sword's power.

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Beowulf sees another sword in the cave and uses it to pierce her and cut her neck and spine. Her blood melts this sword and shines a ray of light, which illuminates the cave.

Third Battle

After the victory, Beowulf and his men return to their homeland. Hygelac and his son die in a battle, and Beowulf is crowned the king and reigns peacefully for fifty years.

One day, a dragon interrupts peace. The dragon is annoyed because a goblet it had guarded for ages had been stolen. The dragon burnt houses and killed innocent inhabitants.

Beowulf gathered 11 brave warriors and the thief who knew where the beast lived and prepared to battle it. The dragon looked terrified, and all the warriors ran away. Only Wiglaf, Beowulf's most loyal warrior, remained, and they defeated the beast.

Unfortunately, the king is severely injured and succumbs. On his sickbed, he leaves the kingdom to Wiglaf as a reward for standing with him.

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Beowulf Essay Topics Guide

When asked to write an essay about Beowulf, it is worth noting that the essay is heroic and has changeable and universal topics. It is because this piece of literature draws convincing and new attention in the contemporary world. Perfect examples of essay topics include:

·         Is Beowulf a perfect king or hero? Is there anything that lacks in his character?

·         The role digressions play in the poem. What light do they shed on the action?

·         Importance of establishing an identity

·         Tensions between heroic code and other value systems

·         The difference between a good king and a good hero

Beowulf Themes

A theme is an overarching belief or idea that a writer expresses in their text. The recurring idea becomes essential when the reader interpret their understanding of the piece of literature to compare and apply various things or incidents. Themes in Beowulf, including the following, surpass races and cultures.

Heroic Code

Heroic code is one of the central Beowulf themes. The honourable manner and conduct dominate the Anglo-Saxon culture. The zeal to fight, courage, and bravery were the basic norms of the heroic code. Beowulf sticks to the standards when he meets the Danes. He fights Grendel and kills the monster after claiming that he will settle the result in one combat. This utterance resonates again when he meets with Grendel's mother. When he's older, he portrays bravery traits by killing the dragon at the expense of his life.

The theme of Loyalty in Beowulf essay

On a battlefield or during the war, all soldiers should be loyal to their comrades and country. Loyalty is evident through the conflict between Beowulf and Unferth. Unferth taunts Beowulf and is disloyal to the king until he knows the truth. Beowulf's loyalty to Hrothgar, on the other hand, is because of the help and refuge the king extended to his father. Finally, while other warriors fled in terror during the battle with the dragon, only Wiglaf stood with the king.

Vengeance

Although Beowulf comes to help Hrothgar, he wants to seek vengeance for the Danes that Grendel killed. Grendel kills Danes because their singing disturbed his peace. Additionally, Grendel's mother attacks when people are asleep because she is angry with her son's brutal death.

Beowulf also seeks vengeance against the dragon for its massive killings. The dragon's killings and conduct are revenge for its lost cup.

Blind revenge was a fundamental part of medieval culture.

The Responsibility of a Ruler

Any responsible ruler should protect his people and rule justly. Both Beowulf and King Hrothgar are popular among the people. KingHrothgar felt obligated to entertain his people and built the mead-hall where Danes could sing and enjoy.

Beowulf protects the Geat tribes for many years. The obligation costed his life when he fought the dragon.

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