Nobody knows who wrote this book. There’s a lot of debate over it, but nobody has a clue. First of all, Beowulf is not a wolf, he’s a human. And this is not a book, it’s a really long, really old poem. There’s a lot of make believe stuff in this story like dragons and whatever, which is kinds cool. This is a big Danish adventure story.
Beowulf:The main character, he is the Prince of Geats and a big hero type guy. He’s a brave warrior who kicks butt. He’s strong and basically wins a lot of fights, but he fights for good reasons.
Hrothgar: A really old king. He’s a nice guy who is very smart. He’s a lover, not a fighter. He is old when Beowulf is young and acts like Beowulf’s daddy. He is a very popular king.
Wiglaf: Wiglaf is this young Swedish warrior. He is young when Beowulf is old. He helps Beowulf fight a dragon when Beowulf is an old man. He is Beowulf’s assistant and acts like his son.
Unferth: A warrior who is really jealous of Beowulf. He talks badly about him all the time but they make up in the end.
Grendel: Grendel is a monster that lives in a lake and has superhuman strength. He is shaped somewhat like a human, and he only comes out at night. Grendel hates humans and all he does is go around killing people in Denmark. Beowulf kills him in the end.
The book starts with the history of the Danish Kings. First there’s this king named Shild, then other kings, and finally King Hrothgar. Hrothgar is Shild’s great grandson.
Hrothgar and his army kick a lot of ass in wars. One day Hrothgar builds a hall named "Herot" for his army to stay in. After they finish it, the guys in the army party like it’s 1999. Then Grendel, this big monster, hears all these guys partying. So one night he goes to the Herot Hall and kills 30 guys. Then for 12 years King Hrothgar is scared of Grendel. He has no idea how to beat the thing and no one parties anymore in Herot Hall.
Then Beowulf hears about the monster. He gets 14 of his buddies from Geats to come with him to kick the monster’s butt. Beowulf goes to Hrothgar’s castle and is pretty cocky about how easily he can kill the big monster. One of Hrothgar’s soldiers, Unferth, says that Beowulf is full of crap about what a good fighter he is. Then Beowulf gets mad and accuses Unferth of killing his brothers. Then Hrothgar tells Beowulf that he will give him some money if he kills the monster (Grendel).
Grendel shows up that night. Beowulf starts fighting with the monster with his bare hands. He rips Grendel’s arm off. Grendel runs away but dies later. Everyone is happy and they do some ceremony to honor Beowulf. Then King Hrothgar gives Beowulf some loot.
Meanwhile, Grendel’s mom is pissed and wants revenge. She comes to Herot one night and kidnaps one of the king’s advisors. Beowulf is pissed and goes to the swamp where she lives to kill her. He brings his army buddies. He sees the advisor’s head floating in the swamp. Then Beowulf asks King Hrothgar to send the reward money to his Uncle, in case he (Beowulf) gets killed. Then Beowulf goes to Grendel’s mom’s house and they fight. He finds some magic sword on the wall and kills her with it. Then he sees Grendel (who was killed awhile ago). He cuts off Grendel’s head and brings it back to the king.
Back at Hrothgar’s castle, everyone is happy and they have another feast. Hrothgar warns Beowulf about becoming too cocky, and then gives him some more money. Beowulf goes home to Geats with his buddies and says goodbye to all the people in Denmark. Back at home Beowulf meets with his king, King Higlac (King of Geats). He tells the king about the monsters, and also that King Hrothgar has another enemy, the Hathobards. Beowulf talks about their peace treaty in which King Hrothgar has to give his daughter to the King of the Hathobards. Beowulf thinks that this peace thing won’t last long.
Then the SECOND part of the poem starts. The second part starts in the future. Beowulf has been King of Geats for fifty years. One night some dude steals a precious cup from a dragon. The dragon gets pissed and goes around burning houses. Then he burns Beowulf’s castle. Beowulf goes to the dragon’s cave to kick his ass. But Beowulf is old now, so he is weak. He fights the dragon, then the dragon shoots fire and burns Beowulf. Then Wiglaf, Beowulf’s assistant, comes and saves Beowulf. He stabs the dragon, then Beowulf cuts the dragon in half.
Beowulf is badly burned. On his deathbed, he asks Wiglaf to bring all the dragon’s treasure, so Beowulf can feel better about himself. Then he asks Wiglaf to build some tower in his honor, where his tomb will be. Then Wiglaf yells at the army because they were wimps and ran away when they saw the dragon. Wiglaf then tells everyone that Beowulf is dead. People are scared that they will get attacked now that the king is no longer alive. Then Wiglaf builds the tower and buries Beowulf with the dragon’s loot.
VERSE BY VERSE
- The first verse just talks about the history of Danish Kings (Beo, Healfdane, Hrothgar). All these kings are in the same family since a king’s son becomes the next king.
- The poem talks about how King Hrothgar rocks. He’s a good man.
- He wants to build some monument so his legacy will live on. He builds the "Herot" hall for his army.
- Hrothgar throws a big party for his army. A poet is the entertainment (wow…what a wild party!).
- Grendel, a big monster, wakes up because of the loud party. He is pissed. He hates humans partying.
- Grendel walks into the Herot hall. All the soldiers are passed out because they’re drunk. Grendel kills 30 guys.
- Hrothgar wakes up in the morning and is sad because some of his men are dead. Then Grendel returns to kill more.
- All the soldiers run away because they’re scared.
- 12 years go by. Nobody goes back to the Herot hall because everyone is scared that the big bad monster will come back.
- Hrothgar tries to kiss monster butt by giving Grendel gifts but he doesn’t accept them.
- Hrothgar and his men do some weird pagan rituals to try and get rid of Grendel.
VERSES 3 – 4
- Everyone in Denmark hears about this evil monster.
- Beowulf, prince of the Geats, gets 14 of his friends to go kill Grendel.
- The Geats gang gets to Denmark and meets some Danish soldier. The Danish soldier thinks they are enemies but finds out they are there to help in killing the monster
- Beowulf talks to the soldier and tells him their plan is to kick a little monster ass.
- Beowulf is a cocky dude.
VERSES 5 – 6
- Beowulf’s gang goes to Hrothgar’s castle. Another Danish soldier, Wulfgar, stops them. He asks them who they are and again Beowulf tells him that they are there to kick Grendel’s ass.
- They are let into the castle.
- Hrothgar talks about how he knew Beowulf when Beowulf was a little kid. Then he talks about how Beowulf is a good fighter.
- Beowulf tells Hrothgar that he is confident that he will succeed in getting rid of Grendel.
- Hrothgar talks about how he helped out Beowulf’s father, Edgetho.
- Edgetho was fighting these people called the Wulfings. Edgetho’s army was a bunch of losers, so Hrothgar sent the Wulfings some loot as a peace offering. This stopped the war.
- Then Hrothgar talks about Grendel the monster and how a lot of guys have tried to take him down, but failed
VERSES 8 – 9
- They have a big feast at Herot Hall to honor Beowulf
- During the shindig, one of the king’s men, Unferth, starts talking nonsense. He calls Beowulf a wimp and says that he is not a good fighter, just lucky. He also says that the monster will probably beat him.
- Unferth tells a sotry about how Beowulf once acted like a jackass because he risked his life during a swimming competition in the ocean against some dude named Brecca.
- Beowulf tells a different story. He says that during the competition, he got split up from Brecca, and then Beowulf killed a monster.
- Then Beowulf starts talking smack about Unferth. He says that he is responsible for Grendel’s reign of terror.
- Then Hrothgar’s wife shows up to refill the drinks.
- At the end of the party Hrothgar hugs Beowulf and tells him that if he kills the monster, he will give Beowulf a lot of loot.
VERSES 10 – 12
- Beowulf gets ready for his big rumble.
- Beowulf is really confident about kicking the monster’s ass. He takes off all his armor and just uses his sword.
- Beowulf is really cocky. He’s not even thinking about the fight, he’s more concerned about the money he’s gonna get as a reward
- All the Danish soldiers are still scared and they go to bed.
- Then Grendel comes to Herot hall. Everyone except Beowulf is asleep. Grendel walks in and kills one man. Beowulf just sits there and does nothing because he wants to see how strong Grendel really is.
- Then Grendel goes to kill Beowulf. But Beowulf surprises him and fights back. He breaks Grendel’s claws.
- Then Grendel turns into a big wimp and tries to run away. But Beowulf keeps him there and starts kicking his ass. Then Beowulf rips one of his arms off.
- All the Danish soldiers wake up and start watching the fight.
- Grendel finally escapes and goes back to his home (the swamp) and dies.
- Beowulf hangs Grendel’s arm on the wall like it’s a trophy.
VERSES 13 – 15
- Then everyone finds out Grendel is dead. All the Danish soldiers go to the swamp and see that he is really dead.
- Everyone is happy that Beowulf killed the monster. They go back to Herot hall singing and smiling.
- Then they talk about these two other brave soldiers: Siegmund and Hermod.
- Then the poem talks about how heroes should have ethics, too.
- Then Beowulf goes back to Hrothgar, who is really happy that Beowulf killed the monster. He wants Beowulf to be his son.
- Even though he slaughtered the monster, Beowulf isn’t that happy with his victory.
- They have a big party to honor Beowulf.
- Hrothgar and his nephew, Hrothulf, show up. Everyone is happy.
VERSES 16 – 17
- Hrothgar starts giving out some gifts. He gives armor to all of Beowulf’s army buddies. Then he gives them gold in honor of the one dude who was killed and eaten by Grendel.
- Then the poem talks about God, and how he is powerful and how there is good and evil in the world.
- During the party, the entertainment is a poet and he tells some war story.
- The story he tells basically breaks down like this: these guys led by a dude named Hnaf are all killed by some guys led by a dude named Finn. Finn’s wife is Hnaf’s sister and she is pissed because Finn killed Hnaf. One of Hnaf’s buddies, Hengest, comes to a peace agreement with Finn over at Hnaf’s hall (house). Then Finn says that anyone who goes against the peace treaty will be killed. Then Hengest can’t decide whether to obey the peace treaty or kill Finn (because Finn killed his friend Hnaf...following this?). In the spring, Hengest decides to kill Finn and steal all his loot.
- The poet finishes the story and Hrothgar’s wife, Welthow, comes into the party. She talks to Hrothgar about how he shouldn’t spend too much time with Beowulf because he will be neglecting his own kids and his nephew (Hrothulf).
- The poem talks about Unferth. Everyone still hates him because he talked smack about the hero, Beowulf.
VERSES 18 – 20
- Beowulf is given a really pretty necklace as a gift.
- Welthow (Hrothgar’s babe) asks Beowulf to talk to her sons and give them some advice.
- All the soldiers go to bed. The poem starts to sound like some bad voodoo is about to go down.
- Then Grendel’s mom (also a monster) comes to Herot hall for revenge. She is pissed.
- She walks in. and the soldiers wake up. They fight her. She takes some dude named Esher (One of Hrothgar’s advisors).
- Then Grendel’s mom takes Grendel’s arm back.
- Hrothgar wakes up Beowulf to go kick butt.
- King Hrothgar is really upset. He talks to Beowulf about what the swamp looks like (Grendel’s home). Hrothgar asks Beowulf to take care of the second big bad monster.
VERSES 21 – 23
- Beowulf consoles Hrothgar because his friend was killed.
- He promises to kill Grendel’s mommy. So they go to the swamp where she lives. They see Esher’s head floating in the water.
- They see lots of serpents and sea monsters swimming around.
- Unferth now believes that Beowulf is a brave dude (earlier, he didn’t). He gives Beowulf a sword to fight Grendel’s mom.
- Beowulf tells Hrothgar to look after his friends and send all his loot to Higlac (King of Geats) in case he dies.
- Beowulf jumps in the lake and goes down to the bottom (he can hold his breath for a long time).
- He sees Grendel’s mom in an underwater cave and he fights in her cave. He tries to slice her head off but he finds out that ordinary weapons don’t hurt her at all.
- Grendel’s mom is winning the fight. Then Beowulf sees a magic sword on the wall and takes it. He cuts her head off (it’s a magic sword so it works).
- Then Beowulf looks around and sees Grendel’s dead body. He cuts off his head.
- Then the poem cuts back to the army dudes standing at the foot of the lake. They see blood and they thinkit is Beowulf’s. They are upset because they think he lost the fight. Back down underwater, Beowulf’s sword mysteriously melts. Then the poem talks about how it must have been God helping out.
- Then Beowulf takes Grendel’s mom’s head and swims back up to the surface.
VERSES 24 – 26
- Beowulf tells Hrothgar all about the fight and how he thinks God gave him that magic sword.
- Then Hrothgar talks to Beowulf and tells him not to get too much of a big ego over this.
- He tells Beowulf that he must use his fame and money wisely. Also he says that people must take advantage of God’s favors and love. If he blesses you, take advantage of it but use it wisely.
- Then Hrothgar tells him that he’s gonna give him more money for killing Grendel’s mom.
- There’s another big dinner party in the Herot Hall to honor Beowulf. He and his buddies are gonna take off the next day.
- Everyone is happy because there are no more monsters.
- The next morning all the Geat soldiers (Beowulf’s army buddies) leave. Unferth gives Beowulf another sword. Beowulf accepts it.
- Before he leaves, Beowulf says goodbye to King Hrothgar. Hrothgar gives some long sad farewell speech to Beowulf. He is sad because he might not see him ever again. Awww shucks.
- Beowulf and the Geat dudes leave with their treasure.
- They take their loot to their king (Higlac)
- Then the poem talks about Higlac’s wife (Higd) and his daughter (Thrith). His wife is a nice lady, and his daughter used to be a bitch, but after marrying some guy she’s nice now.
VERSES 28 – 30
- Beowulf is talking with King Higlac. Beowulf is telling him about all his adventures over in Denmark.
- Then Beowulf talks about Hrothgar. He says that Hrothgar is planning on having his daughter marry the prince of a tribe that is his enemy. Hrothgar hopes this will make peace.
- Beowulf tells Higlac that he thinks this won’t work and the two sides will go back to fighting.
- Beowulf continues his story about the monsters. He exaggerates a little bit to make him look like an even bigger stud.
VERSES 31 – 32
- Beowulf tells Higlac how much he loves him. He tells him that he is faithful to him and his kingdom
- Then he gives Higlac all the treasure he got in Denmark.
- The poem then goes off track for a bit. It talks about Beowulf when he was a kid. The other kids picked on him.
- Then the poem cuts to the future. Higlac is dead, and Beowulf becomes the new king. He is king for fifty years. Then the story resumes from there (he is an old man now).
- Now that he is king, he has a problem. In his land, there is this big fire-breathing dragon,
- One night a thief steals a cup from the dragon. The cup has nice jewels on it. Now the dragon is pissed. The cup was from some noble family and the dragon was protecting it.
- Beowulf has to stop the dragon.
VERSES 33 – 35
- The dragon goes around burning houses. Then he burns Beowulf’s house and his throne.
- At first Beowulf thinks God is mad at him, but then he finds out it is the dragon.
- Beowulf gets ready to rumble with the dragon.
- Then the poem starts talking about some old war that Beowulf was in (Frisian War). In this war, King Higlac died. Higlac’s son becomes king but was killed, too. Then Beowulf became king.
- Then the poem cuts back to Beowulf and the dragon. The thief who stole the cup takes Beowulf to the dragon’s cave. Then Beowulf rests and thinks back about his life.
- Then the poem does a flashback about Beowulf’s life. When Beowulf was 7 he was taken in by some dude name Hrethel. Then the poem talks about his brothers (Hrethel’s sons) and how they died in war. Then Beowulf was a soldier when Higlac became king and he fought hard for him.
- Thinking back on his life gives Beowulf some confidence and he’s ready to kick some dragon ass now. Even though he’s old, Beowulf wants to fight the dragon himself.
- So Beowulf and the dragon fight. The dragon shoots fire and melts Beowulf’s shield.
- Beowulf hurts the dragon a little. But then the dragon burns Beowulf. Beowulf is losing. His army is scared and runs away instead of helping Beowulf.
VERSES 36 – 37
- One of Beowulf’s army guys shows up and helps him. His name is Wiglaf.
- Wiglaf yells at the other army guys for running away.
- Then the poem talks about Wiglaf’s sword.
- Wiglaf runs to help Beowulf. The dragon stabs Beowulf with its tusks.
- Then Wiglaf hurts the dragon with his sword. Then Beowulf cuts the dragon in half.
- Beowulf dies next, but before he dies he gives some long speech and once again, he reviews his life. He talks about the things he never got to do.
VERSES 38 – 39
- Before he dies, Beowulf asks for the dragon’s treasure
- His last request is that they build a tower and put his tomb inside it. He wants a monument in his honor.
- The soldiers come back and find that Beowulf is dead. Wiglaf yells at them again.
- Wiglaf makes a long speech to the soldiers about Beowulf and how the soldiers are big babies.
VERSES 40 – 41
- Wiglaf sends a messenger to tell everyone what happened.
- Everyone is scared because once people find out that the mighty Beowulf is dead, they will invade the Geats.
- They decide to bury Beowulf with all of the dragon’s treasure
- All the soldiers go back to the scene of the battle. They talk about the "price" of war and wonder why the hell they fight.
VERSES 42 – 43
- The poem talks about the hidden treasure and how men are greedy.
- Wiglaf gives another speech about Beowulf. He reviews his life AGAIN and tells people what a great guy he was.
- They go get the dragon’s treasure.
- Then they build a huge tower and bury Beowulf inside it
- They bury him with the dragon’s treasure.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART