Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. How is Beowulf structured? How does this structure relate to the theme or themes of the work as a whole?
2. Beowulf is set in a male-dominated world full of violence and danger. What role does patriarchal history play in this world? Why does it matter to the warriors who their ancestors were?
3. What role does religion play in Beowulf?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. What role does the mead-hall play in Anglo-Saxon warrior culture? What is the proper relationship between a lord and his warriors? What examples can you find throughout Beowulf?
2. What is the role of women in the heroic culture of Beowulf?
3. How does treasure function in Beowulf? How do the characters and the poet seem to feel about the element of gold, as it appears throughout the poem?
4. What role do the digressions play in Beowulf? What light do they shed on the main action?
5. Is Beowulf an ideal hero and king? Is there anything lacking in his character?
6. Would you say that the characters in Beowulf are as psychologically complex those in modern works of literature? Do they undergo any development as the poem progresses?
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