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Beowulf: Anglo-Saxon Literature

Opening facts before reading Beowulf.

Dianna Shuford

on 21 August 2018

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Transcript of Beowulf: Anglo-Saxon Literature

Male of noble birth
character traits reflect the culture's values
performs courageous and superhuman feats
actions determine the fate of a group of people
universal themes: life/death, good/evil
reflects timeless values: courage, honor, strength
setting is vast (more than one nation)
What is an epic hero?
Paganism Vs. Christianity
If we are studying British Literature, then why are we reading a selection from a Germanic tribe?
Anglo-Saxon Literature
written between 8th-10th century
Old English Poem
follows the Germanic style of poetry

When the Western Roman Empire fell

Germanic tribes invaded:
Angles, Saxons, and the Jutes
Scops, poet-singers who traveled from place to place, passed the poem down in an oral tradition.

The poem included many of the culture's pagan beliefs.
When monks recorded the poems, they added Christian elements.
Angle-land = England
Literary Devices to look for...
alliteration- repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words

litotes- a negative understatement

kenning- metaphorical compound words or phrases substituted for simple nouns

stock epithet- adjectives that point out special traits of particular persons or things

allusion- a reference to a historical or fictional person, place, or event with which the reader is assumed to be familiar
Geats (Sweden): Beowulf's home

Danes (Denmark): Geats arrive to aid the Danes
Hrothgar: King of the Danes

Wulfgar: Hrothgar's soldier who announces Beowulf

Herot: mead hall of the Danes; communal hall for eating, drinking, and meeting.
Grendel: Monster terrorizing the Danes

Grendel's Mother: Monster seeks revenge for her son
Dragon: guards a treasure; terrorizes the Geats
Beowulf: Prince of the Geats

Higlac (Hygelac): King of the Geats

Wiglaf: Beowulf's soldier willing to stand with him in battle

Hrunting: Beowulf's sword
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