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Beowulf Analysis

Literary Devices in Beowulf

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

There are several important scenes involving different bodies of water in Beowulf – the dangerous sea-crossing that Beowulf and his warriors undertake to go from Geatland to Denmark; the swim...


OK, follow us closely here, because this does actually get a little bit confusing. Beowulf is an epic about a glorious past. But it's not just in "the past" now for us as 21st century readers. It w...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator of Beowulf is one of those godlike narrators who sees everything and can skip around between different characters and between the past, present, and future. In fact, you might get a li...


When you read Beowulf, unless you know Old English, you'll be reading it in translation, so you may not realize that it's actually a poem. In fact, it's written in alliterative verse, which is the...


The narrator of Beowulf uses several different tones over the course of this long epic poem, but throughout everything he is always formal. This isn't a chummy, chatty, nudge-you-in-the-ribs kind o...

Writing Style

Apart from the poetic qualities of the alliterative verse in which Beowulf is written (see "Genre" for more on that), the epic has a grand, majestic style that seems to lift you up as you read it....

What's Up With the Title?

Beowulf: it's the name of our hero and it's the name of his story. And it's a pretty cool name: scholars like to argue about where exactly it came from, but the most persuasive theory we've heard i...

What's Up With the Ending?

Oh, wait, you thought that, just because Beowulf is heroic, virtuous, and brave, that he was going to live happily ever after? Nope, that's not how ancient warrior culture rolled. The first rule of...

Plot Analysis

King Hrothgar and the Danes are at the mercy of the marauding demon Grendel, who keeps attacking Heorot Hall.Not only is this what's happening at the beginning, which should tip you off that it's t...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Grendel's vicious attacks on the Danes in Heorot Hall become the stuff of legend. Across the sea, a Geatish warrior, Beowulf, hears about Grendel and decides to travel to Heorot to fight him.The na...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Beowulf fights and defeats the demon Grendel.Beowulf fights and defeats Grendel's mother.Beowulf takes on his greatest challenge yet: a dragon.


Beowulf is the oldest surviving epic written in English. (OK, it's in Old English, but you get the idea.) In fact, it's the oldest epic poem or story in any modern(ish) European language. (Source)S...

Steaminess Rating

There's no sex in Beowulf. Plenty of violence, blood, gore, torn sinews, and burning corpses, but no sex.


Cain and Abel (99-114, 1260-1268)Sigemund the Dragon-Slayer (Note: in Beowulf, the famous dragon-slayer is called Sigemund, but in Norse mythology Sigemund is just the father of the famous dragon-s...

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