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I’m Like a Paper Bag, But the Bottom’s Wet Feraco Search for Human Potential 30 November 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "I’m Like a Paper Bag, But the Bottom’s Wet Feraco Search for Human Potential 30 November 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 I’m Like a Paper Bag, But the Bottom’s Wet Feraco Search for Human Potential 30 November 2010

2 Characters  Aeschere  Hrothgar’s most trusted and valuable advisor  Beheaded by Grendma (no one is safe); avenged by Beowulf  Beow  Son of Shield Sheafson  Takes over after Shield dies; foreshadows Beowulf’s reluctant inheritance of the Geatish throne (best- case scenario)  Beowulf  Main character; son of Ecgtheow  Slays Grendel, Grendma, and dragon  Courage, divine will, and honor…but everything is never enough  Breca  Competed against Beowulf in a swimming contest  Used by Unferth to question Beowulf’s capabilities

3 Characters  The Dragon  An ancient evil who guards a lost race’s cursed treasure hoard  Disturbed by a slave’s recklessness; destroys Hygelac’s Great Building; defeated by Beowulf  Eadgils  Son of Ohthere and Onela’s nephew  Oddly, befriends Beowulf while in exile  Eanmund  Son of Oethere; killed by Weohstan, who is awarded his gear by Onela  Ecgtheow  Beowulf’s father; kills Heatholaf, the Wulfing prince, and cannot pay the death-price  Exiled by the Geats, Ecgtheow is rescued by Hrothgar, who pays for Heatholaf and averts war (indebting Ecgtheow in the process)

4 Characters  Eofor  Hygelac’s thane; he avenges his king’s death by killing Ongentheow  He gets to marry Hygelac’s daughter as a reward; they produce no children  Finn  Long-ago Frisian king; Hildeburh’s husband  Betrayed and killed after reaching a truce with the invading Danes that prevents them from going home (betrayal foreshadow’s Beowulf’s thanes running away)  Freawaru  Hrothgar’s and Wealhtheow’s only daughter; betrothed to Ingeld, the Heathobard prince  Beowulf worries their marriage is doomed, with the ensuing conflict dragging the Shieldings into a war they cannot afford

5 Characters  Grendel  A descendent of Cain’s clan, and the poem’s main villain; lives with his mother in the burning, haunted mere  Cursed by genetics, not by action; wages “lonely war” on Heorot for twelve years  Impervious to human weapons; Beowulf fights him hand- to-hand and tears him apart  “Grendma”  Along with Grendel, the last in Cain’s cursed line; slain by Beowulf with a giant’s weapon  Attacks Heorot and kills Aeschere after her son’s death  Haethcyn  Hrethel’s second son, and Hygelac’s older brother/predecessor as king  Never meant to be king, but accidentally kills Herebeald with an arrow; thrust into power too soon and is quickly kills, destabilizing Geatland  Halfdane  Beow’s only son and Hrothgar’s father  A good and wise king who has many children before dying

6 Characters  Halga  Hrothgar’s younger brother; provides him with an heir, Hrothulf, outside the typical line of succession (middle-case scenario re: foreshadowing Beowulf’s ascension)  Heardred  Hygelac’s only son; forced into power when Beowulf rejects the throne after Hygelac’s death  Tutored by Beowulf, but quickly killed by the Swedes (avenging Ongentheow), leaving the former as king (worst-case scenario)  Heatholaf  The Wulfing prince; killed by Ecgtheow  War between the Wulfings and Geats is averted when Hrothgar pays the death-price  Hengest  In olden times, a young Dane who assumes a battlefield kingship once Hnaef is killed in the fight against Finn’s forces  His forces rise up against Finn after a year in exile and head home

7 Characters  Heorogar  Hrothgar’s older brother; precedes him on the throne following Halfdane’s death, but dies fairly quickly  His war-gear and sword are given to Beowulf rather than to Heoroweard, his son; according to Wikipedia, Heoroweard (who doesn’t merit anything more than a single line as a “loyal” person here) kills Hrothulf in later works because he feels he has a greater claim on the throne  Herebeald  Hrethel’s eldest son and intended heir to the throne  Accidentally killed by Haethcyn before he can take power; the loss eventually kills Hrethel as well  Heremod  An olden Danish king, the opposite of Beowulf and Shield Sheafson  Started fine, but corrupted by power; threw away lives needlessly and hoarded treasure until his subjects betrayed and exiled him  Shield’s arrival and ascension, as well as Beow’s birth, undoes the damage he caused

8 Characters  Hildeburh  The olden Frisian queen, and a Dane by birth  In the war between the Frisians and Danes, she loses her brother (Hnaef, the Danish king), her son (unnamed, a Frisian prince), and her husband (Finn, the Frisian king); the Danes kidnap her and drag her back to Denmark after murdering her husband (parallels Hygd’s devastating losses)  Hnaef  The olden Danish king; Hildeburh’s brother  Dies while leading an invasion against Finn and the Frisians  Hrethel  A great Geatish king who sits at the head of the poem’s version of the Geat family tree  He had three sons, but Haethcyn kills Herebeald, and Hrethel died of grief soon thereafter  Hrethric  Hrothgar’s eldest son; not ready for the throne  Wealhtheow suggests protecting him and his younger brother by naming Hrothulf as a temporary successor

9 Characters  Hrothgar  Danish king who assumes the throne at a young age  Wise, kind, and generous; saves the Geats in the Ecgtheow incident (inadvertently tying Beowulf to him)  Provides for his kingdom (two sons and a daughter; distributes treasure; builds Heorot), but relentlessly attacked by Grendel; only saved by divine protection on the throne  Hrothulf  Halga’s son; Wealhtheow asks Hrothgar to use him as a temporary heir, a scaffold until Hrethric or Hrothmund proves ready for the throne  In other works, apparently killed by Heoroweard  Hrothmund  Hrothgar’s youngest son; not ready for the throne  Hygd  Hygelac’s wife, a beautiful, wise, and extremely young Geatish queen (Queen Modthryth’s opposite)  Loses everything; her husband dies, and Beowulf’s refusal to listen to her costs her Heardred as well

10 Characters  Hygelac  The Geatish king, taking over at a young age following Hrethel’s and Haethcyn’s deaths (shades of Hrothgar’s ascension, and Beowulf’s)  Dies in a war with the Swedes and others  Ingeld  The prince of the Heathobards, an old Danish foe  Set to marry Freawaru, the Danish princess  Modthryth  Hygd’s and Wealhtheow’s opposite; in some ways, Heremod’s parallel  Arbitrary and cruel ruler; mollified by marriage  Ohthere  Son of Ongentheow; father of Eanmund and Eadgils  Poem’s history differs from other portrayals where Ohthere takes the throne for a while

11 Characters  Onela  Son of Ongentheow; takes over the throne following his father’s death  “Ignores the blood-feud” when Weohstan presents Eanmund’s armor to him  Eventually slain by Beowulf, ending the Swede/Geat wars (for now)  Ongentheow  Swedish (Shylfing) king; killed by Eofor  Shield Sheafson  An orphan from overseas, Shield essentially reunites and restores Denmark, kicking off the Shielding royal line  His funeral parallels Beowulf’s, providing one half of the poem’s bracketed structure  He dies young, still in the prime of his life – but provided for his people with Beow  Sigemund  A figure mentioned in song by the scop; a legendary dragonslayer  Fights the dragon alone and triumphs; foreshadows Beowulf’s future battles

12 Characters  Unferth  A member of Hrothgar’s circle (not family) who is wise and somewhat respected, but “under a cloud for killing his brothers”  He mocks and challenges Beowulf when he arrives at Heorot out of jealousy, but Beowulf refutes his story and puts him in his place  Unferth isn’t brave enough to fight, but he does gain some small measure of redemption by giving Beowulf his ceremonial sword, Hrunting (which Beowulf eventually returns)  Wealhtheow  Hrothgar’s wife, the Danish queen  Wise and generous, she presents gifts and distributes treasure; serves as an extension of rule  Weohstan  Wiglaf’s father, he killed Eanmund  Tried returning his armor to Onela, who was so impressed that he allowed Weohstan to return with the war-gear  Wiglaf  The last of the Waegmundings, and Beowulf’s only loyal thane  He turns back and goes to fight by Beowulf’s side against the dragon  Avoids the curse on the treasure hoard because his intentions are pure (wants to reassure Beowulf before he dies)  Wulfgar  A Danish retainer who greets Beowulf ritualistically, then introduces him formally to Hrothgar

13 Settings and Symbols  Boasting  Reputation/Tradition  Opportunity  Burial / Funeral Pyres  The end of things  Burning and Passion  The Coast and the Whale-Road  Borders (keep in, keep out)  Permanence vs. Impermanence  The Dragon / The Hoard  Sin/Wickedness/Recklessness  Inevitability

14 Settings and Symbols  Grendel’s Mere  Cursed by God (burning water)  The Underworld/Fear  Heorot Hall / Denmark  The things we build  Defending what we love  Ritual and tradition  Hygelac’s Great Building  Burned to the Ground  The Iron Age  Swords (Hrunting/Naegling)  Ritual and Tradition  The Past’s Failure, the Uncertain Future

15 Concepts and Themes  Courage and Wisdom  Beowulf / Wiglaf / Shield / Weohstan / Wealhtheow  Grendel / Unferth / Modthryth / Haethcyn  Danger  The Danger You Bring Upon Yourself  The Dangers You Cannot Avoid  Degeneration and Death  Everything Ends; Everything Fades  The Great Building; The Old King; The Dragon’s Barrow  Divine Will and Faith  The Throne  The Warrior  The Son  Courage

16 Concepts and Themes  Fleeing and Exile  Grendel / Grendma / Cain  Heremod  Ecgtheow / Eadgils / Finn and the Danes  Good vs. Evil  Beowulf vs. Grendel/Grendma/Dragon  The Changing Face of Everything  Grief vs. Hope  The Hopeless Shieldings  Salvation from the Sea  The Wailing Geat  Hate and Revenge  Finn / Ongentheow / Ingeld / Beowulf / Aeschere / Grendma  A Thousand Years of War  Geatland Gone

17 Concepts and Themes  Heirlooms and Marriage  National Ties + Family Ties  Averting Catastrophe, Preserving the Past, Ensuring the Future  Heroism, Honor, and Sacrifice  Beowulf as a Youth vs. Beowulf as a King  Why Would Anybody Want to Be King?  The Thanes, Grendel, and the Olden Danes  The Motivations: Glory, Family, and Everything In Between  Identity and Reputation  How Much Can One Control?  Opportunity Knocks…  Inevitability  Fighting the Dragon  Someone Starts Fighting Again

18 Concepts and Themes  Lineage and Heritage  Without Family, We Are Nothing  Without a Past, We Have No Future  Cementing Identity  Loyalty and Friendship  Beowulf and Wiglaf / Hrothgar and Aeschere  National Ties  Love is the Source of Hate  Names, Family, and Community  The Only Things One Can Count On  Families Torn Apart

19 Concepts and Themes  Power  That Which We Seek  That Which Kills Us  Royalty and Subjects  Ring-Givers vs. Hoarders  Hrothgar and Hygelac vs. Heremod and Modthryth  Vulnerability  Beowulf/Sigemund; Beowulf/Grendel/Grendma  The Death of New Kings

20 History and Translation  One copy, partly toasted  Used as “Rosetta Stone”  People used to ignore the “mythical” elements in favor of its history  J.R.R. Tolkien changed our reading of the poem  “The Monsters and the Critics”  Saw it less as linguistic touchstone and amalgamation of historical references and more as a vibrant legend in its own right  Believe it or not, that used to be all we used this beautiful poem for: history and scansion  Thanks, Tolkien!

21 Beowulf’s Last Words “Fate swept us away, / sent my whole brave high-born clan / to their final doom. Now I must follow them.” That was the warrior’s last word. / He had no more to confide. ( )


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