Beowulf Cheat Sheet

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1. Weapons serve as the tools that the soldiers must use
> to do their job: killing beasts or men without getting
> killed. As a artist may be fond of his paintbrush, the
> soldiers greatly cherish their weapons. Often a weapon is
> valued for its pedigree. The author often interrupts action > to delve into a weapon’s previous owners and its history. > In the introduction, Burton Raffel states, “The important > tools, in this poem, are weapons: proven swords and helmets > are handed down from father to son, like the vital

> treasures they were. Swords have personalities, and names: > ” (xi)
> Beowulf uses Hrothgar’s helmet and armor to protect > him from serpents’ claws while he descends into the lake to > meet Grendel’s mother. The helmet is said to “ block all > battle swords, stop all blades from cutting at

> him”(1451-53) However, the monster bites holes in it.
> Grendels’ mother is frustrated by the almost impenetrable > armor. She “tried to work her fingers through the tight
> ring-woven mail on his breast, but tore and scratched in
> vain.” (1503-05)
> Hrunting is the sword that Unferth lends Beowulf for
> the battle against Grendel’s mother. Hrunting is a lucky > sword, “No one who’d worn it into battle, swung it in
> dangerous places, daring and brave, had ever been
> deserted-”(1459-1461) However, Hrunting is useless against > Grendel’s mother, although no swords made by mortals would > have pierced the monster’s skin. It takes a sword “hammered > by giants, strong and blessed with their magic” (1557-1559) > that Beowulf finds hanging on the wall to cut through the

> monster’s neck. The monster’s blood melts the sword but > Beowulf brings the sword hilt to Hrothgar as a gift.
> In the battle against the dragon Beowulf uses a sword
> named Nagling. It first cracks against the tough dragon
> skin and then breaks to pieces against the dragon’s head. > Once again, “his weapon had failed him, deserted him, now > when he...
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