Writing Legends
Possible Essay Topics for Beowulf

Listed below are some topics that can be restated. This list will give you an idea of how you may want to approach your Beowulf essay. Agree or disagree with any of the following statements.

1. Beowulf is steeped in a pagan tradition that depicts nature as hostile and forces of death as uncontrollable. Blind fate picks random victims; man is never reconciled with the world. Beowulf is a failure.

2. Beowulf is the story of a dual ordeal: an external battle with vicious opponents and an internal battle with human tendencies of pride, greed, cowardice, betrayal, and self-concern.

3. Beowulf is the universal story of manís journey from adolescence to adulthood to old age. It charts the growth in wisdom about self and the world gained through the pain and triumph of experience.

4. Beowulf represents the successful blending of pagan and Christian elements. These elements were often incorporated side-by-side in the epic. Describe and explain the placement of these elements including readersí acceptance of both.

5. Beowulf is the blending of Christian traditions with a story that extols virtues of loyalty, courage, and faith in the face of extreme dangers and even death. It presents a model of man willing to die to deliver his fellow men from terrifying evil forces.

6. The epic Beowulf often digresses to include other legends or stories. Describe two or three of these and relate the significance and relevance to the epic itself.

7. In Beowulf, the distribution of wealth is an essential part of the social structure, the bond of comitatus. How important is wealth in Beowulf, and how does it relate to other major values of Germanic tribes?

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