We've reached the end of our epic poem ladies and gentlemen. And yes, Beowulf will fight a dragon for his final battle!
But before all of that, I feel it is important to discuss the concept of comitatus. What is that you ask?? The theme of comitatus (that the king must be protected at all times or avenged if he is killed) is seen constantly throughout Beowulf. The king's guards sleep in the mead hall while he sleeps in an adjoining chamber so that they can protect him always; if anyone wants to harm the king, he has to go through a room full of warriors. Think about what a warrior give his king: his life. What does the king give in return that would make them want to risk their lives?
The question I pose is this: What would you have to be offered to risk your life for someone else? I'm thinking Oreos! :-P
After Beowulf severs Grendel's arm during the fight at Heorot, Grendel, knowing that his wound is mortal, escapes to his home in the fens.
Even though Beowulf's defeat of Grendel becomes the occasion of great celebration among the Geats and Danes, who believe the threat to Hrothgar's people has ended with Grendel's death, a more serious threat looms in the form of Grendel's mother.
After Heorot is restored to its original grandeur (before Grendel's attacks began), Hrothgar's and Beowulf's men celebrate Beowulf's triumph over Grendel and sleep in the hall, completely unaware that trouble, in the form of Grendel's mother, is on its way!
Beowulf's defeat of Grendel is actually just a prelude to the battle with Grendel's mother, who is animated by not only her hatred of men but also her desire for revenge and is much more powerful and dangerous than Grendel.
The question I pose to you is this: Is Grendel's mom really a villain or just a grieving mother?
What does Grendel's mother have for breakfast? Coffee and a couple danish.
We're continuing our exploration of Beowulf and of course we finally meet face to face (ish?) Grendel!
Grendel is a man-eating demon that lives in the land of the Danes and attacks King Hrothgar's mead-hall, Herot, every evening. The narrator of Beowulf claims that Grendel's motivation is hearing Hrothgar's nightly partying, which rubs his demonic nature the wrong way. Whatever the reason, every night Grendel slaughters more Danes and feeds on their corpses after tearing them limb from limb. Grendel will finally meet his match when Beowulf comes to town!
If you recall from the Prologue, the poet narrator explains that Grendel is the descendant of the Biblical Cain; suggesting that not only is he part of a larger religious or supernatural scheme of evil, but also that they are connected with one of the worst things possible in tribal culture – fratricide, or the killing of a brother. What I've always wondered though is what does he ACTUALLY look like? You'll see at many points in the poem, Grendel seems less like a Biblical figure and more like a ghost, a demon, or something else that belongs in a horror movie.
From what I've learned in college, it is argued that Grendel might represent something that isn't supernatural at all – a member of another tribe, an outcast, or a warrior who won't play by the rules. After all, the real problem with Grendel is not that he kills people. Pretty much everyone in this story kills people. The problem with Grendel is that he seems to kill for fun and he won't pay the blood money owed to the families of the Danes he's killed. So, it's possible to see Grendel, not as a fantastic monster, but as a monstrous human warrior with a pathological love for violence. Or, to spin it another way, you can read Grendel as a vilification of "the other," or the "outcast" a demonic representation of someone outside the tribe. Of course, since he feeds on the corpses of his victims, that makes him a cannibal. But maybe that just adds to the chilling horror of it all.
Did you hear about the cannibal that arrived late to the party? He was given a cold shoulder! I crack myself up sometimes!
And we're off!
I hope everyone had a great weekend and is as excited as I am to get started.
Keep in mind that your summer reading is due September 27th. It is your first test grade in this course...make it a good one!!!
You're probably sitting there thinking " How can a poem written over 1000 years ago relate to my life?" It's simple! Think of every superhero/action movie you've seen. In this poem, Beowulf is a famous knight who comes to town to fight off an evil demon, Grendel. How is that not like any movie featuring superheroes like Batman, The Avengers, Spiderman or Superman?!
Back when Beowulf was written, there were no cell phones or computers or any means of writing down the tale. It is considered oral tradition. People would sit around and tell tales night after night. These tales would be passed down from family to family through generations! It's kind of like the game "Telephone" we used to play as a kid. I pose this question to you: How accurate is the epic poem, Beowulf, now that we know it was created through oral tradition?
Keep in mind that a vocab quiz can POP up at any time!
Enjoy the week!
I am so excited to be embarking on this exciting school year with you!
Here's a little info about this site!
Be sure to explore all the tabs on this website! Please note that all Junior class specific info will be under the Junior tab on the navigation bar.
The majority of what that I hand out in class will appear on the "Handouts"page- all of my documents are PDF files- Be sure to have Adobe Acrobat! http://get.adobe.com/reader/
If you lose any of the handouts or miss class, please visit that page to re-print it. Presentation notes will also be available on this page, so if you miss class, it is your responsibility to read through the notes and catch up with homework and readings.
Also, if you find any great resources on anything related to what we are discussing in class,, please email me the website and I will add it to our resources page!
Looking forward to a fun and exciting year together!!!