Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Anonymous's Beowulf. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Beowulf: Plot Summary
Beowulf: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Beowulf: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Anonymous
Historical Context of Beowulf
Other Books Related to Beowulf
- Full Title: Beowulf
- When Published: Beowulf exists in a single damaged manuscript in the British Library. The manuscript was probably written in England in the early eleventh century, though the poem itself was probably first written down in the eighth century, and was passed on orally before that.
- Literary Period: Medieval; Anglo-Saxon
- Genre: Epic poem
- Setting: Northern Europe, especially Denmark and Sweden, around the sixth century
- Climax: Beowulf's final fight with a dragon
- Point of View: The unnamed speaker of the poem
Extra Credit for Beowulf
Old English Style. Beowulf is the longest poem written in Old English. Old English poetry uses alliterative meter, meaning that the stressed words in a line begin with the same sound. A line of Old English poetry has two halves, with a brief pause, called a caesura, in the middle of the line. The two halves of a line are linked by the alliteration (repetition of an initial consonant); at least three words in a line alliterate. Old English poetry also uses kennings, compressed metaphors like "heaven's candle" for the sun, or "whale's road" for the sea, or calling a woman married in an effort to gain peace a "peace weaver."