Beowulf

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Summary
Analysis
In the morning, the Danes celebrate Beowulf's victory in Heorot. Men follow Grendel's tracks to the lake where Grendel died. The water boils with his blood. They return to Heorot and fill the hall with the sound of their celebration.
With the death of Grendel, Heorot again becomes a symbol of Danish unity, a place of celebration, joy, and gifts.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Hrothgar's scop sings. He compares Beowulf to Sigemund, a famous warrior who killed a dragon and took its treasure, and contrasts Beowulf to Heremod, a once great Danish king who turned selfish and vicious, becoming powerful by killing his own people. Ultimately, Heremod was chased from his tribe and killed by his enemies.
Sigemund and Heremod were both great warriors, but Heremod as king succumbed to pride, ruled harshly, and lost his people. The differences between these two similar warriors highlight the traits of a good king.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
Hrothgar thanks both God and Beowulf for the defeat of Grendel. He proclaims that Beowulf is now like a son to him, and rewards him with treasure. Hrothgar adds that it is "through the Lord's might" that Beowulf was able to defeat Grendel. Beowulf wishes he could have kept Grendel inside of Heorot, but says that "the Lord did not wish it." The narrator describes Grendel's arm, noting again that it can't be damaged by iron weapons and that each finger has a steel-like talon at its end. The narrator comments that Beowulf has disproved Unferth's claim of weakness.
Hrothgar's comment that Beowulf is a son to him is more than just an expression of kindness. Hrothgar is also building stronger diplomatic ties with the greatest warrior in the world by claiming him as family. For his part, Beowulf is now free from any stain that Unferth's comments might have left on him.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
Christianity and Paganism Theme Icon
The immense damage caused by Beowulf's fight with Grendel is repaired, and a great feast held. Heorot is filled with friends and family, including Hrothgar and his nephew Hrothulf. But the narrator comments that "the Scyldings [Danes] had not yet known betrayal."
Now that Heorot is once more the heart of Danish society, the narrator hints that the society will once again be ripped apart, this time by humans.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
Get the entire Beowulf LitChart as a printable PDF.
Beowulf.pdf.medium
At the feast, Hrothgar gives Beowulf gifts ranging from gold to horses to weapons. He also gives gifts to Beowulf's men, and pays the Geats for their companion whom Grendel killed.
Gold and gifts are not just payment, they're also public acknowledgement of valor and create bonds of loyalty.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Christianity and Paganism Theme Icon
The scop sings of the Fight at Finnsburg. Finn, a Frisian king, weds a Danish princess, Hildeburh. Her brother, Hnaef, the King of the Danes, visits, but the visit results in a battle that kills both Hnaef and Hildeburh's son. Finn then tries to establish peace between the Frisians and Danes. He promises Hengest, the new Danish leader, that their peoples will live in equality under Finn's leadership and that no one will ever remind the Danes that they serve their lord's killer. He also gives the Danes wergild to make up for the loss of their leader..
Hildeburh's predicament emphasizes the contradictions in the rules of personal and tribal honor. These forces overwhelm diplomacy, tearing society apart. The story suggests that the tensions inherent in Germanic society will always undermine diplomacy and peace.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
The Danes, stranded by winter in the Frisian land, agree. They burn Hnaef and Hildeburh's son's bodies together. The Danes spend the winter with Finn and the Frisians , but secretly spend the time planning revenge. When spring comes, the Danes attack, killing Finn. The Danes then take the Frisian's treasure, and return to their people with Hildeburh.
The Fight at Finnsburg story also establishes an ominous tone that foreshadows Grendel's Mother's attack. Even attempts to make peace can lead to war.
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Fame, Pride, and Shame Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon
After the song, Wealhtheow, Hrothgar's queen, offers the gold mead cup to Hrothgar and tells him to be generous to Beowulf and the other Geats. She then turns to her nephew Hrothulf and her sons Hrethic and Hrothmund, who are sitting next to Beowulf. She reminds her nephew that Hrothgar took him in when he was a child, and says she knows Hrothulf will repay her sons well. Finally, she offers the golden cup to Beowulf, and gives him a magnificent gifts: a gold necklace, arm bands made of twisted gold, and a mail shirt. She praises Beowulf, then urges him to be kind to her son. The feast continues until Hrothgar leaves to go to sleep. Many of the warriors remain in the hall to sleep.
Wealhtheow, a good queen, is trying to cement the bond between Hrothgar and Beowulf, and extend it into the next generation. But her comments to Hrothulf about the unity of the Danes are ironic, in part because they follow the Finnsburg story, which shows how quickly peace can be destroyed, but also because the narrator has already revealed that Heorot, the heart of the Danish society, will burn after one member of the royal family (Hrothulf) betrays another (Hrethic).
Themes
Family and Tribe Theme Icon
Good Warriors and Good Kings Theme Icon
Repetition and Change Theme Icon