Prepare to discuss the following themes with the students:
- Life is short and hard, death will come to you. The whole story lies between Shield’s funeral and Beowulf’s funeral.
- In warrier culture, fame was immortality.
- Christianity, and along with it the idea that immortality is in heaven, is a new idea.
- In Beowulf, the warrier culture and Christianity are both present, and blend rather badly.
- Together we stand, together we fall – this a good theme if we focus on Beowulf as the story of the Geats.
- Nothing lasts forever. Explain the term elegiac. This is a story about days gone by.
- Something is always saved (Wiglaf brings that sense of hope for the Geats, in the end. Although Geatish society will certainly fall, Wiglaf and those like him will continue).
- Themes by the three monsters
- Ostracism, isolation and envy, as exemplified by Grendel
- Revenge versus peace weaving, as exemplified by Grendel’s Mother and Wealtheow – they are both homemakers but have very different core values
- Greed and the desire for immortality, as exemplified by the Dragon