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Reading Response to Beowulf

Updated on October 4, 2013

Plagiarism is bad!

Please use this as an example only. I'm posting my personal reading responses because I've met so many people even in college that don't know how to write them. There are many different kinds of reading responses, this is one version.

Not sure if this is the origination but it is where I found it.
Not sure if this is the origination but it is where I found it. | Source

A formalist thought on Beowulf

Beowulf was composed around 850. It tells how Hrothgar, descendent of Shield, created a great hall called Heorot. Grendel grew tired of hearing celebrations in Heorot and began attacking Heorot each night. After hearing this, Beowulf goes to Denmark to defeat Grendel. Grendel attacks the night they arrive and Beowulf tears his arm off. Seeking revenge, Grendel’s mother attacks Heorot the next night and kills Hrothgar’s friend Aeschere. Hrothgar sends Beowulf after her. After a hard battle Beowulf is victorious. Then he goes home where his uncle, King Hygelac, asks him to recount his adventure and he does.

I liked the kennings the composer used for description. It is almost like he was trying to get across the strongest possible meaning of his words. The first one I noticed was, “The leader of the troop unlocked his word-hoard” (Line 258). He uses a slightly frowned upon word (hoard) to describe what I assume to be the man’s tongue or mouth. My favorite was his description of Grendel as a murderer or killer, “this corpse-maker mongering death” (276). He says that Grendel not only kills people, but he actually brings death (an existential being) with him during his attacks on Heorot.

I also found it very interesting that the men were frequently referred to as their father’s son. Throughout the text Hrothgar is repeatedly referred to only as Halfdane’s son. The first time we see this is in line 191 when “Halfdane’s son” cannot handle the grief that Grendel causes. It is as if the ancestry was more significant than the actual people. It reminds me of that saying about having to atone for the sins of the father, but it is reversed. In the text the men were rejoiced because of the accomplishments of their father. “Then if Hrethric should think about traveling/ as a king’s son” (1836-1837). The text only mentions Beowulf being around Hrethric one time, yet Hrethric will “find many friends” (1838) if he goes to Geats. I feel bad for the guy that does not out-accomplish his father.

© 2012 info-overload


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