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Beowulf

Ray Winstone as Beowulf in Robert


Zemeckis Beowulf, 2007
The oldest poem written in English more than 1200 years ago.

1. The background
Beowulf
Anonymous and composed in the first half of the 8th century.
It deals with a time following the initial invasion of England by
Germanic tribes in 449 (5th~6th Cent.).
It contains Christian elements; the pagan deities are removed.
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The Geats (Beowulf; his retainer, Wiglaf; the Eorls).
2. The characters
A scene of Robert Zemeckis Beowulf, 2007
Beowulf
The Danes (King Hrothgar).
The Swedes.
Grendel, the monster.
Grendels mother.
The fire-breathing dragon.
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Loyalty and kinship.

3. The values of warrior society in the poem
Beowulf
The need to take revenge.
Physical strength and courage.
The search for glory in this life.
The importance of fate.
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Beowulf prays to the Creator of all things, the ruler of the Heavens.
4. Christian elements
Beowulf
God's will: identical with fate (wyrd).
Grendel: descendent of Cain.
Reference to the Old Testament.
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Kenning






The hoard-guardian
(the guardian of the treasure = the monster)

Alliteration
5. Techniques
Beowulf


He rippled down the rock, writhing with anger
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Elevated language
5. Techniques
Beowulf


They extolled (praised) his heroic nature and exploits (deeds)
and gave thanks for his greatness





Long lists of leaders and warriors
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the swan-road

the whale-road
the bent-necked wood

the ringed prow
The Ship
6. KENNINGS from the poem
Beowulf
The Sea
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The Sword
6. KENNINGS from the poem
Beowulf
the storm of swords
Peter Nicolai Arbo (1831-1892), The last
stand of King Harald Hardrada at the Battle of
Stamford Bridge in 1066

the leaving of the file

battle-lightning
The Battle

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the ring-giver

the dispenser of treasure
The Dragon
Ray Winstone as Beowulf in Robert Zemeckis Beowulf, 2007
Beowulf
the twilight-spoiler
6. KENNINGS from the poem
The Lord/King


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The Feud = the tragic waste.
7. Themes
Beowulf
A system of revenge is repeated in the poem:
feud peace feud.
The eternal conflict between dark and light, good and evil.
Fate
Courage as the quality that can stand against Fate.
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