Beowulf Summary Story: The Best Summary 2023

Beowulf (Beowulf summary story) is a complicated work of Old English literature that can be difficult to decipher and comprehend at first. The following article is for anyone who is having problems grasping Beowulf’s plot or simply wants a concise overview to save time. Are you ready to travel back 1500 years to a time where dragons, angry trolls, and wealth abound? Let’s get started!

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General Information

Beowulf is an Old English epic poem about Beowulf’s life and exploits. Throughout the novel, he is a valiant mythical warrior who defeats animals and aids those in need. Beowulf is often regarded as one of the most important works of Old English literature. It features 3,182 alliterative lines with no rhymes, instead relying on alliteration as a primary literary method to create a feeling of unity and rhythm.

The poem, which was nameless, was most likely written between 975 and 1025. The events depicted in the poem took place in the sixth century, when Anglo-Saxon tribes began to settle in England. Scholars later suggested renaming the poem Beowulf after the main character. The poem weaves together real-life occurrences, fantasy, and elements from several Anglo-Saxon legends. There are no other works of literature that acknowledge or confirm Beowulf’s existence, hence the figure is usually assumed to be mythical. There is no mention of Beowulf himself, although some archeological evidence that the places and events in Beowulf were actual, such as the mead-hall, the many rulers, and certain conflicts and tribes.

It’s also worth mentioning that parts of the poem contain incidents and concepts that are similar to stories and legends from Denmark and Scandinavia.

Beowulf’s Summary

Over the course of the poem, Beowulf encounters and battles three big animals. We’ll look at each of them as a different turning point in his life, as well as his accomplishments as a good commander and warrior.

The First Combat

Grendel, a gigantic monster that could be an ogre or a troll, terrorizes Hrothgar and his warriors. Grendel despises joy and gladness, and he abhors festivals. He’s been going to Heorot for the past 12 years, a castle built by Hrothgar for himself and his troops. Grendel punishes those who enjoy themselves and celebrate. Every day, he feeds and murders Hrothgar’s troops, terrorizing and destroying Heorot.

Heorot saved a man from a dreadful death many years ago. Ecgtheow, Beowulf’s father, was revealed to be this man. When Beowulf learns of Heorot’s troubles, he sets off with 14 of his warriors to leave Geatland and assist Hrothgar in his fight against Grendel. Beowulf pledges honor to Hygelac, the Geatish king, and vows to return triumphant.

When Beowulf and his men arrive in Heorot, they are greeted by Hrothgar’s soldiers, who lavishly drink and feast on them. During the celebration, one thane, Unferth, a Hrothgar warrior, tries to make fun of Beowulf for losing a swimming competition years previously. Beowulf, according to Unferth, has no chance against Grendel, the legendary beast. Beowulf refutes his opponent’s claim, claiming that he merely got lost in the endless sea and walked in the opposite direction. He managed to kill nine sea creatures on his way back to land.

Grendel arrives in Heorot after everyone has fallen asleep following the revelry. He begins by attacking the mead-hall, killing one of Beowulf’s Geats. Grendel then attempts but fails to kill and eat Beowulf. Instead, Beowulf grabs Grendel’s arm and pulls it from his body all the way down to his shoulder with the strength of 30 men. Grendel flees the mead-hall, gravely hurt. All of the men congratulate Beowulf on his win. He hangs Grendel’s claw from the ceiling in all his splendour.

Second Battle

After Beowulf and his brave men defeat the monster, everyone rejoices. They drink a lot, listen to music, and eat wonderful cuisine. Hrothgar and his wife Wealhteow are so impressed by Beowulf’s performance that they present him with a gold collar. After a large feast, everyone falls asleep, believing that Grendel has been killed and that they are no longer in danger.

Grendel’s mother, the water witch, disturbs their peace and sleep. She arrives enraged, determined to avenge her son and assassinate Beowulf. While everyone, including Beowulf, is dead asleep, she takes Grendel’s arm from the ceiling and kidnaps one of Hrothgar’s warriors named Aeschere.

They depart Heorot the next morning in search of Grendel’s mother. They come across Aeschere’s head on a tall mountain while looking for her footprints. They follow the trail, and Beowulf discovers Grendel’s mother in a deep, dark cave. She leads him to the lake’s bottom, where their fight begins. Beowulf is impervious to her strikes due to the might of his sword, which was forged by the renowned smith Weland.

It is, however, too weak to harm Grendel’s mother. Beowulf comes across another blade laying in the cave, grabs it, and pierces her spine and neck with it. Her blood melts the blade, illuminating the cave with a dazzling ray of light. Beowulf unearths a priceless relic.

Third Battle

Another beast comes along one day and disrupts the quiet. A massive fire-breathing dragon this time. The dragon is enraged because a thief took a goblet from the treasure it had been protecting for a long time. The dragon begins to terrorize Geatland, setting fire to homes and murdering its residents. Beowulf collects his bravest men, as well as the thief who knows where the dragon resides, and prepares to fight the beast. The dragon appears to be fearsome, and all of Beowulf’s soldiers flee the battlefield. Wiglaf, Beowulf’s most devoted warrior, is the only one who sticks with him. In this unbalanced combat, he stays faithful to his convictions and supports his monarch. Beowulf and Wiglaf defeat the dragon together. Unfortunately, because to an injury and his numerous wounds, Beowulf does not survive the conflict. His dying wish is to bequeath his realm to Wiglaf, as a prize for remaining loyal to his monarch despite all odds and horrors.

Epilogue

Wiglaf, the new king, and the people of Geatland honor Beowulf and his achievements by organizing a massive funeral procession. His other dying desire was to be cremated, so they built a big barrow to hold his remains. The barrow is also brimming with valuables that attest to Beowulf’s importance. Another last request of Beowulf’s was for his burial site to be visible from the sea, so that anybody passing by may see it.

Sources

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