Themes of Beowulf • Beowulffeaturesthreekeythemesthatdictatetheactions of thecharacters: • Loyalty • Revenge • Reputation
Chapter 22, Lines 8-11: Be guardian, thou, to this group of my thanes, my warrior-friends, if War should seize me; and the goodly gifts thou gavest me, Hrothgar beloved, to Hygelac send! Loyalty Chapter 13, Line 25: (After spreading the news of Beowulf’s victory): On their lord beloved they laid no slight, gracious Hrothgar: a good king he! Chapter 29, Lines 5-8: BW Speaking to Hygelac: Now to thee, my prince, I proffer them all, gladly give them. Thy grace alone can find me favor. Few indeed have I of kinsmen, save, Hygelac, thee!" Chapter 14, Line 25-27: Now, Beowulf, thee, of heroes best, I shall heartily love as mine own, my son Chapter 34: Wiglafstands by his King while the other thanes leave. Chapter 21, final part: BW Speaking about Unferth: Bairn of Ecglaf - now this weapon he lent to a stouter swordsman– Himself, though, durst not under welter of waters wager his life as loyal liegeman. So lost he his glory Chapter 36: (About the men who left) fearing before to flourish a spear in the sore distress of their sovran lord. Now in their shame their shields they carried. Yea, death is better for liegemen all than a life of shame!
Chapter 20, Lines 2-3: It beseems us better friends to avenge than fruitlessly mourn them. Revenge Chapters 16-17: The story of the Frisians: The Danes and Frisians fought and an important Danish hero Hnaef was killed by Finn (a Frisian). Hostilities continued, with Hengest leading the Danes, until a peace deal was made. After Hnaef’s funeral, everyone went home. “Though more gladly he (Hengest) pondered on wreaking his vengeance” Hengest led an attack on Finn’s home and killed him, taking their queen captive. Chapter 24, Lines 19-20: (BW speaking to Hrothgar after killing Grendel’s Mother) So avenged I their fiendish deeds death-fall of Danes, as was due and right. Chapter 31: The folk's own fastness that fiery dragon with flame had destroyed, but the warlike king, prince of the Weders, plotted vengeance Chapter 19: And his mother now, gloomy and grim, would go that quest of sorrow, the death of her son to avenge
Chapters 8-9 Beowulfcorrects Unferth and tells his side of the story of the race with Breca, all while not insulting Unferth at any time. Reputation Chapter 4, Lines 5-10: To folk afar was my father known, noble atheling, Ecgtheow named. Full of winters, he fared away aged from earth; he is honored still through width of the world by wise men all. Chapters 10-11 Beowulf’s killing of Grendel with his bare hands. Chapter 13, Line 17: Home then road the hoary clansmen – Beowulf’s glory eager they echoed And all averred that from sea to sea, north to south, there was no other in earth’s domain more valiant found. Chapter 6, lines 7-11 (Wulfgar speaking) And seamen, too, have said me this, -- he has thirty men's heft of grasp in the gripe of his hand. Lines 37-40 Beowulf spake -- Fame a plenty have I gained in youth! Chapter 18, Line 33-34: (Wealtheow speaking) Hast done such deeds, that for days to come thou art famed among folk both far and near,
Chapter 29: Long was he spurned, and worthless by Geatish warriors held; Slack and shiftless the strong men deemed him, profitless prince; Reputation Chapter 20, Lines 6-10: (BW speaking) so win who may glory ere death! When his days are told, that is the warrior's worthiest doom. Chapter 33: The fight is not yours, nor meet for any but me alone to measure might with this monster here and play the hero. Chapter 21, final part: BW Speaking about Unferth: Bairn of Ecglaf - now this weapon he lent to a stouter swordsman– Himself, though, durst not under welter of waters wager his life as loyal liegeman. So lost he his glory Chapter 22, end: His strength he trusted, So man shall do whenever in war he weens to earn him lasting fame, nor fears for his life!