Ah, Beowulf. Such a fantastic story. So well told, and yet so often misunderstood. Much of the misconception surrounding Beowulf stems from the recent film featuring Anthony Hopkins, et al. The film is not bad, but if you don’t know the story behind the movie you’re in trouble.
Let me put this another way: for today’s audience, the logic behind Beowulf (the movie) is strange and confusing. Storytelling was quite different in the eighth century – hence much of the confusion. If you miss this connection, just watching the film is NOT going to be an adequate substitute.
To write a strong essay about Beowulf, you’ll need to focus your attention on the relationship between Beowulf and Grendel. Consider some of these questions for essay starting points:
- What motivates Beowulf to kill Grendel?
- What does Grendel represent to Beowulf and King Hrothgar?
- What does Grendel represent to the Danes?
- What human qualities does Grendel’s mother represent?
Like any literary analysis essay, your writing on Beowulf should be focused around a central theme or question. Avoid overwhelming your reader with too much information and always keep your essay simple.