Beowulf - Study Guide
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Beowulf is the first great English, Anglo-Saxon, literary epic, chronicling a hero's exploits as northern European clans teeter between Christianity and the old religions.
A monster, Grendel, has descended on Heorot, mead hall of King Hrothgar, bringing death and chaos for 12 years.
Beowulf, hero of the Geats, travels to the land of the Danes to free them from Grendel's grasp. With boldness and God's help, Beowulf defeats Grendel and Grendel's mother when she comes seeking vengeance.
Finally, at the end of a long reign as king of the Geats, Beowulf faces a dragon to save his people and burn his name into the pages of history.
Through Seamus Heaney's gripping translation of this epic, Beowulf, students will learn:
Historical Background: 8th-10th century A.D.
Author Biography: Learn about the Beowulf poet.
Before-You-Read Activities: Mapping, manuscripts, Old English, music, folk heroes.
Vocabulary words used throughout the novel, utilizing a variety of activities to stimulate retention and growth.
Literary Techniques: In context, Old English Poetic Forms - (alliteration, kenning, maxims), characterization, Anglo-Saxon boast, foreshadowing, irony, allusion, compare/contrast, tone, synonym, dramatic structure, plot, hero.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: Good kings/leaders, authority, fate, boasting, fame, immortality, death, revenge, care for the needy, put God first, wealth.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Burial mounds, mead halls, art, write a boast, drama, crossword, essays, poetry, music, cooking, family heirloom, swords, wordsearch, runes, dragons, journalism, women in Anglo-Saxon history, game design, architecture, chain mail.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include an in-depth reading list of other books that tie in with, or are similar to, Beowulf.
All of the unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!
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This was a thorough and useful resource for our book club on Beowulf. We didn't use the biblical activities, as it was a secular crowd, and there was still plenty of material to work with.
This study guide is well written and organized, and the answer key is comprehensive. We skipped the biblical ties, and still found it to be very useful. My one reason for rating a 4 instead of a 5 is the vocabulary-- there are often times when the words chosen are fairly common, yet the reading contains archaic or unusual words that weren't in the vocab list. "Tern-hag", for example, with "tern" meaning a mountain lake. "Keshes" was another example. I would suggest having a section that defines these archaic words in addition to the vocab exercises.