The only existing manuscript of “Beowulf” dates back to around 1000 years. But the epopee itself, according to most experts, dates back to the end of the 7th or the first third of the 8th century. At that time the Anglo-Saxons were already experiencing the beginning process of the origin of feudal ties. The poem, however, is inherent in epic archaizing.
If you are assigned a specific type of paper about “Beowulf,” you need to check out our main topics: 25 recommended “Beowulf” essay topics to compare and contrast, topics about the main hero, discussion, and easy topics to write on. The only thing you should keep in mind is what type of paper you need to write.
Beowulf Main Topics
- Discuss the mixture of Christian and pagan elements in the text.
- Examine the poem and discuss some ways in which it portrays modern society. What are the common characteristics?
- Discuss how the poem of “Beowulf” presents the universal and timeless “good versus evil” conflict through the three battles in the story.
- Literary analysis on Burton Raffels’ translation of “Beowulf.”
- Do you feel the book is or is not an important historical work? Why or why not?
- Do you feel as if the author was biased towards one view of history and neglected other interpretations of events? Why or why not?
- Do you feel the author’s descriptions are accurate? Why or why not?
- Did the book cause you to change your opinion about historical events? Why or why not?
- Do you feel the book would make a valid and reliable historical source for the period of history it deals with? Why or why not?
- What is the structure of “Beowulf”? Does it have any particular function for the work?
- How did the monks who translated “Beowulf” establish that Grendel is a direct contrast to the historically Christian values represented as “good” in the epic poem? Using any three of the seven deadly sins analyzed in the text, prove that the monks who translated “Beowulf” set Grendel up as a representation of evil.
- Should “Beowulf” be taught in schools?
- Discuss the intermingling of Christian references and specifically pagan, or just traditionally heroic, scenes.
- What are the symbolic meanings of the names in the poem?
Beowulf Essay Topics – Hero
- Why do you think Beowulf must face each challenge (Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon) in a specific order?
- Do you consider Beowulf to be a good hero or king in the poem? What characteristics does he possess or lack that determines this?
- Do you think Beowulf is a hero in the epic poem? Why or why not?
- Was Beowulf’s confidence an asset or a tragic flaw?
- Is Beowulf a tragic hero? For the purpose of your essay, assume that Beowulf was a historical figure and the stories/tales told about him are true.
- The monsters of “Beowulf” as symbolic representations.
- Why is Beowulf an epic hero?
- What, according to the narrator, are Beowulf’s good qualities?
- What does Beowulf’s life suggest about wyrd (fate) and the Viking worldview? What scene(s) conveys this? Recall Hrothgar’s advice to him in particular.
- Write a typed essay interpreting the role of violence in the world of Beowulf, king of the Geats. To what extent is violence controlled or limited? To what extent is it either randomly applied or highly targeted? What role does it play in both the survival and the maintenance of a civilization?
- Role of good vs. evil in “Beowulf.”
- How does the evolution of the hero figure relate to social, political, and/or cultural changes?
- In your opinion, what is Beowulf’s legacy? (What should he be remembered for?) To what extent can Beowulf be considered heroic?
- Is the main theme of “Beowulf” heroism that involves only physical courage? Explain your answer.
Compare and Contrast Beowulf Topics
- It has been said that one of the principle differences between early medieval heroic epics – “Beowulf” being a key example of the genre – and medieval romance is that whereas in the former, characters do not change, the latter focuses on the psychological transformation of major characters. Based on your comparison of the three texts (“Beowulf,” “Nibelungenlied,” and “Le Morte Darthur”), do you think this is true?
- Compare the character Beowulf from the eponymous epic to John Gardner’s “Grendel.”
- Victor Frankenstein and Beowulf are two protagonists that allowed their ambition to rule them. Discuss the difference and similarities between these two characters, and how their ambitions shaped not only their fate but also the outcome of the novel.
- Comparison of “The Aeneid” and “Beowulf.”
- Compare and contrast a work with a movie adaptation. Compare the recent movie version of “Beowulf” to the Anglo-Saxon poem.
- Examine the heroic ideals of the Anglo-Saxon people and how those principles are exemplified in “Beowulf,” then compare them with the heroic ideals of 2017 America.
- Create a compare and contrast analysis on which hero is, in context to his society, more heroic: Sir Gawain or Beowulf.
- Compare the characters, their crises, their responses, and their actions in “Frankenstein,” “Julius Caesar,” and “Beowulf.”
- Compare the Quran and “Beowulf.”
- Compare Beowulf as a young man and as an old man. How is he the same/changed?
- Compare and contrast how Beowulf and Unferth display (or don’t display) the core values of Anglo-Saxon culture.
- Compare “Beowulf” and “The Dream of the Rood,” and examine the relationship between Christianity and paganism these poets describe. How do these contrary forces operate in the poems? What do they teach us about faith and secularism?
- Compare the idea of an honorable man in the time of “Beowulf” to modern day men.
- Compare Beowulf and Wonder Woman.
- Compare and contrast the three attacks in “Beowulf.” What similarities did they have? What differences?
- Compare Beowulf and Batman.
- Compare and Contrast Bush’s 9/11 speech and Grendel/Beowulf.
- Compare “Beowulf,” “The Lay of the Werewolf,” “The Canterbury Tales,” “Everyman,” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”
- Compare and contrast Beowulf with a hero from pop culture. What makes each character heroic? Are the same traits of past heroes the same as current day heroes?
- Compare the heroic traits of courage, morals, intelligence, leadership, and composure, to Beowulf, Ulysses, Frodo, and Gandhi.
- Compare the Medieval period to the early 17th century using the stories “Beowulf” and “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”
- Discuss differences or similarities between the characters Beowulf and Spiderman.
- Compare the depiction and significance of armor and weaponry in “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”
- Compare the nature of heroism in “Beowulf” and Malory’s “Morte Darthur.” What heroic values are defined and illustrated in each of these works and through which characters? To what extent are the heroic values in each work in conflict with the Christian values of the works’ primary audiences? How does each work identify and justify the rewards of heroism?
- Compare and contrast: the protagonists of “Macbeth” and either “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” or “Beowulf.” Compare and contrast their tragic flaws, and how their flaws and actions led to their individual demise.
Discussion “Beowulf” Essay Topics
- Discuss the role of wealth in the poem. Do Beowulf and the poet share the same view on gold and wealth?
- Discuss the portrayal of Grendel’s mother. What is she, what do you think she symbolizes, and how does the fact that she is participating in the heroic honor code of vengeance affect the way the poem presents her and the way we understand her?
- What does Beowulf’s character tell us about the importance of honor and public reputation?
- Discuss the image of kingship in “Beowulf” and what we learn about what makes a good or bad king. Similarly, what is the role of the retinue (a king’s followers) and the importance of its loyalty?
- Discuss the interweaving of the values of the warrior society with the suggested Christianity of “Beowulf.”
- Use Heaney’s description as the basis of an analysis of “Beowulf” that discusses how the poem is an expression of a fate-governed world.
- How does treasure function in “Beowulf”? How do the characters and the poet seem to feel about the existence of gold, as it appears throughout the poem?
- Why have protagonists become more complex over time in “Beowulf”?
- How can the “best in us” also be the “worst in us” according to “Beowulf”?
- Discuss the many recurring themes in the epic poem “Beowulf” that help us better understand the characters and their motivations.
- Discuss the ideas of light and dark imagery depictions of good/evil and joy/sorrow in “Beowulf.”
- Discuss “Beowulf” as a work of literature that aims to embody beautifully what is true and good about the world from an Anglo-Saxon perspective.
- To what extent are “Beowulf” and “Gawain and the Green Knight” epic poems?
- Why are the heroes of “Beowulf” so concerned about their ancestors’ titles and social positions?
Easy Beowulf Essay Topics
- How can you tell the author is Christian from “Beowulf”?
- What role do Grendel, his mother, and the dragon play in the story? What does that tell us about mankind in general?
- Why are Old English works important to continue reading? Include examples from “Beowulf.”
- How do Beowulf’s heroic qualities affect the story?
- Define the symbolism in “Beowulf” and explain how it developed the story.
- What makes a hero appeal to his culture: Beowulf vs. Captain America?
- “Beowulf” as a portrait of the Anglo-Saxon feudal system.
- In an expository essay, discuss what “Beowulf” reveals about Anglo-Saxon attitudes toward courage, fate, the span of life, and the deceased.
- Identify specific situations throughout his life in which Beowulf has created and maintained alliances with individuals and with other tribes. Explain how these situations reflect the Anglo-Saxon code (for example, wergild, revenge, and any others).
- Can Beowulf be portrayed as a negative character?
- How does the poem “Beowulf” begin? Do we start with the hero or with the problem/challenge that will establish him as hero? The poet had both choices. Which is the best?
- What sign do you think Beowulf, Grendel, and Grendel’s mother should be, based on your research and findings?
- Was Beowulf a reflection of his time and not arrogant?
According to the topics for “Beowulf” essay writing presented here, you can choose different types of papers. If you don’t have experience in writing such a paper, look through guides and samples presented on our site. They will help you to write an essay on your own, and as a result, get a high grade.
How to Find More Topics for Your Beowulf Essay
Now when you have explored all topics in our article, you may still need more ideas to write your essay. You can use the following suggestions or ask our writers to “write my essay,” they will pick an interesting topic on Beowulf and write a unique paper sample based on your instructions.
Analyze characters. One of the best approaches to analyzing the writing piece is to explore the development of one or two characters. You can compare and contrast two characters (e.g., Beowulf and Grendel) or focus on a specific character (e.g., Wealhtheow, Hygd, Grendel’s Mother, etc.).
Compare Beowulf to similar literary works. You can’t compare any poem you wish, as it should have a similar theme or style (e.g., heroic tales like Iliad or Odyssey). Choose writing that will expand the understanding of Beowulf from various perspectives. For example, consider comparing Beowulf to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Divine Comedy, The Nibelungenlied, or another you like.
Dig into the historical context. Explore the period of Anglo-Saxons and define how values and customs are pictured in the poem. You explore how religious aspects, mythology, and traditions influenced the narrative.
Explore literary techniques and stylistic devices. As the story of Beowulf was written many years ago, the author has utilized techniques such as alliteration, caesura, etc. Consider that the poem was adapted and interpreted.
Main Themes in Beowulf
One of the ideas to expand your pool of ideas is to talk about Beowulf’s themes. Consider such pieces as heroic bravery, the conflict between good and evil, loyalty between characters, concepts of fate, the role of reputation, religious elements, questions about human existence, etc. Choose one or several themes which resonate with you the most, or ask our writers to write essay online.
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