Literature through the movies. Beowulf.

Beowulf is a long epic poem that was written down around 1000 AD. The poem is in Old English, so whoever wrote it probably lived in England. It’s one of the oldest poems written in English.beowulf02

But the poem tells a story about things that happened in the early 500’s AD – nearly 500 years before the poem was written down. The story takes place in Denmark and Sweden, and involves real people who lived in the early 500’s AD, who we know about from other written stories in Swedish and also from archaeology.

When Beowulf was being composed and written, the Anglo-Saxons had only recently moved from Denmark and Sweden to England, so they still had a lot of friends and relatives back home, and they told stories about the things these people were doing.

In the story, Beowulf is a great warrior and hero. He sails to Denmark to save his relative King Hrothgar from a terrible monster called Grendel. There’s a fight, and Beowulf tears off Grendel’s arm, so Grendel goes home and bleeds to death.

The next night, Grendel’s mother comes and attacks King Hrothgar’s hall, so Beowulf fights and kills her too with a magic sword. Everyone is very happy and Beowulf gets lots of rewards.

Beowulf goes on to have more adventures. He helps out with a Viking raid on Frisia led by King Hygelac (which is also mentioned by Frankish sources so we know it happened in 516 AD). Eventually he becomes King of the Geats, and he rules the Geats until he is an old man, for fifty years. But then he hears about a new monster that is scaring everybody: this time it is a dragon. Even though he is very old, Beowulf is still a hero, so he goes out and kills the dragon. But this time the dragon succeeds in killing Beowulf.

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After watching the film and reading the plot above, answer the following questions:

1.        Write about the importance of the golden drinking horn in the poem.

2.        Who tells Beowulf the way to kill the dragon?

3.        What do Grendel and the dragon have in common?

4.        What are the differences in the plot of the epic poem and the film?

5.        Is Beowulf a positive or negative character? Why?

This is the official site of the film.