Lines 607–836

Summary

As the good will of the gathering returns, Queen Wealhtheow passes around more mead. Courteous and stately, adorned with gold and jewels, she makes an impressive appearance. She greets Beowulf and thanks God for his arrival. Beowulf pledges to defeat Grendel that night in the mead-hall or die trying. Hrothgar retires early. The party breaks up, but Beowulf and the Geats remain to spend the night in Heorot.

Grendel comes up from the marsh hoping to find a human to devour. In some respects, he looks like a man: two arms (something like giant claws), two legs, one head; but he is much larger and stronger than most men and might be thought of as a huge, angry monster whose joy is destroying the joy of men. He is delighted when he sees several Geats sleeping in the hall. Beowulf lies awake, watching, as Grendel kills and eats one of the warriors. Then he reaches for his second kill, Beowulf. The Geat champion grabs hold of Grendel’s claw with the strength of 30 men and won’t let go. Grendel cannot escape, and a vicious match ensues, ending when Beowulf rips Grendel’s arm from its shoulder socket. Mortally wounded, Grendel flees. Beowulf hangs the giant’s claw under the roof of the mead-hall (926–983).


Commentary

Hospitality and generosity are major themes in Beowulf, and Wealhtheow is their most gracious representative. Wealhtheow is the perfect host. She is beautiful and richly attired, courteous, proper, and “excellent in virtues” (623). Following decorum, she offers the first cup of mead to King Hrothgar, her husband. She then proceeds through the hall, serving as she goes, but pays special attention to Beowulf, greeting him appropriately and thanking God for sending the great warrior. Apparently touched by the queen’s grace, Beowulf vows that he will end that night with either victory over Grendel or his own death.

The role of women is limited in the epic; they were still thought of as chattel, possessions of their husbands. Among the nobility, however,

-26-

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CliffsNotes, Beowulf
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • How to Use This Book vi
  • Life and Background of the Poet 1
  • Introduction to Beowulf 5
  • Critical Commentaries 17
  • Lines 1 - 193 18
  • Lines 194 - 606 22
  • Lines 607 - 836 26
  • Lines 837 - 1062 30
  • Lines 1063 - 1250 33
  • Lines 1251 - 1491 36
  • Lines 1492 - 1650 39
  • Lines 1651 - 1887 42
  • Lines 1888 - 2199 45
  • Lines 2200 - 2400 49
  • Lines 2401 - 2630 53
  • Lines 2631 - 2820 56
  • Lines 2821 - 3182 59
  • Character Analyses 62
  • Critical Essays 71
  • CliffsNotes Review 79
  • CliffsNotes Resource Center 82
  • Index 86
  • Notes 90
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