Journal: Beowulf as a Hero Lesson 1 Journal

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Beowulf as a Hero

Lesson 1 Journal Entry #

Journal Exercise 1.3A: What makes a hero?

Beowulf is a hero who possesses strength, courage and loyalty; these are the elements that make up a hero during his time. There is a certain heroic code that must be followed in Beowulf and Beowulf follows that code perfectly. During the course of the poem, Beowulf changes as a person -- he matures, and this is a journey that is typical of heroes. Most heroes in literature don't start out as heroes. They may have the qualities lying dormant, but their journey is what turns them into a hero.

When Beowulf goes to fight Grendel, he is a strong and combative leader, but by the end he has turned into a true leader. He becomes wise as well as strong and his values change. Beowulf, at the beginning of the poem, loves the praise that comes with greatness; it is later, as king, that he will come to be wise. In the final battle with the dragon, Beowulf must use both of the qualities of warrior and king to defeat the dragon.

Lesson 1 Journal Entry # 2 of 16

Journal Exercise 1.3B: The Epic Hero

Intellect

Courage

Super-Strength

On a Quest

Watches Grendel in order to plan his attack

Beowulf takes on Grendel, Grendel's mother, and finally the dragon

Beowulf is said to have the strength of 30 men

He goes to fight Grendel for Hrothgar

Brings the iron shield to fight the dragon

Protects his people from harm

He rips off Grendel's arm; kills him without the use of a shield/sword

He is also on a quest for greatness

Lesson 1 Journal Entry # 3 of 16

Journal Exercise 1.3C: Responding to Beowulf

1. When we first read about Grendel in the poem Beowulf, we learn that he lives in darkness. We later find out that Grendel lives in a hell that is on earth. It is only when it is dark out that Grendel appears to fight Beowulf. These images are supposed to make us fear Grendel and we also begin to see him as evil whereas Beowulf would be the opposite -- light and goodness.

2. In Gardner's depiction of Grendel, he makes Grendel out to be much more vulnerable and empathic. Grendel wonders why the creatures can't be a bit more dignified, but then he quickly realizes that he is not any better than them. He calls himself a, "pointless, ridiculous monster crouched in the shadows, stinking of dead men, murdered children, martyred cows… Ah, sad one, poor old freake!" This depiction of Grendel shows a much weaker creature and it does help the reader to sympathize with Grendel because it shows him for what he is yet we also understand that Grendel is not proud of who he is.

3. The details of daily life in 999 relate to Beowulf in a few ways. First, the articles states that the forests were "deep and dangerous" and they defined existence; illness and disease were common and they created many deficiencies like bone malformations, which create hunchbacks and cripples; the nobility also must spend its time battling enemies.

Life in 999 doesn't compare really with life today. Today we have medicines and vaccinations that can ward off disease; we don't have feudal lords and, for the most part, people don't live in the forest (and if they do, these forests aren't dark and dangerous as in 999).

The Legacy of Beowulf

Lesson 1 Journal Entry # 4 of 16

Journal Exercise: 1.4A: Kennings

1. 1) mead-bench (bench); 2) boy-child (child or boy); 3)

Look back over lines 1-126 of the text and identify at least two examples of kennings written as hyphenated compounds, two written as prepositional phrases and two written as possessives. Identify what each kenning refers to.

2. Compile a list of 5 modern kennings (headhunter): 1) suntrap; 2) web surfer; 3) music junkie (or film junkie, book junkie, etc.); 4) shopping whore; 5) technophobe.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Lesson 1 Journal Entry # 5 of 16

Journal Exercise 1.5A: Epic Conventions and Epic Heroes

Six features that define an epic: 1) Hero possesses superhuman in traits; 2) the setting can be numerous places, often has a lot of scope (e.g., going to the underworld, other times, etc.); 3) the writing style is lofty or elevated (perhaps poetic language); 4) Rigid in structure; 5) Hero is historical or legendary (important in some way to a culture); 6) the hero is very courageous and brave.

Epic elements in Epic of Gilgamesh: 1) Enkidu goes to the underworld; 2) Gilgamesh travels through mountains, across seas, and through the sea of death; 3) There is a lot of symbolism that comes across as being lofty in style; 4) Gilgamesh is a historical character.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a good example of an epic poem because it has a lot of qualities that make up an epic poem. There is a heroic quest and the setting is vast in scope. Not only this, but the Gilgamesh is an important character in that we follow his journey and his obsession with his own life and how he comes to terms with death. This topic -- mortality -- is one that is a topic that has always been of great concern to humans and thus it makes a good topic in which to set an epic around. One's quest for answers to his or her mortality would have to be epic in scope.

Lesson 1 Journal Entry # 6 of 16

Journal Exercise 1.5B: Responding to Gilgamesh

1. The Epic of Gilgamesh does meet the requirements of an epic poem. An epic poem is an extended narrative poem that is written in poetic language. It also follows the journeys of important beings -- such as kings or legendary people, which Gilgamesh does. In this case Gilgamesh is journeying to find immortality and there are supernatural elements in the poem (such as an underworld, gods, etc.) -- these are characteristics of an epic poem.

One of the elements in the poem that make it epic is when Gilgamesh loses his plant, his solution to immortality. This loss became Gilgamesh's most important moment; the moment of truth. He arrives back home and he realizes that everything he has been missing in his quest was at home.

2. Gilgamesh is a combination of a god and a man while Enkidu is animal and man. Enkidu was born savage and lives in the forest like an animal. It is the gods who transform Enkidu into a man. Enkidu does act as a foil to Gilgamesh as he is the one who keeps Gilgamesh going, giving him confidence, and helping g him in every step of their journey.

Heroic Achilles

Lesson 1 Journal Entry # 7 of 16

Journal Exercise 1.6A: Defining Honor

1. Honor, to me, means being a good, virtuous and honest person. It also means having dignity and respecting one's self. Personal excellence is always being the best person I can be. I want to do well in every aspect of my life -- not just one. When you're always giving 100% then you are always striving for personal excellence.

2. An ideal of honor could make society a better place by instilling it with a sense of purpose and knowing that each person has meaning a the ability to change themselves and society. It could possibly harm society if there are people who take the idea of honor to an exaggerated level. There would also be problems in that everybody's individual definition of honor is different.

3. Honor for Homer is achieving the praise or esteem from others. Honor is more important than anything else in Homer's heroes that life doesn't seem to amount to anything much without it. I don't agree with the kind of honor that just has to do with what people think of you. What is the purpose in that? So, if society says you're not honorable, you're not? I don't buy that.

Lesson 1 Journal Entry # 8 of 16

Journal Exercise 1.6B: Responding to Literature

1. Yes, Hector was doomed by fate. Patroclus told Hector that death and fate, two things that go hand-in-hand, were standing close by him.

2. Hector wants to be the most-powerful man; he kills Patroclus; he also takes Patroclus' armor to show how much superior he is; he doesn't take Polydamas' advice; he forces the attack against the ships; he makes grave decision that result in the loss of many lives.

3.

3. Achilles and Hector are rival warriors, but are they both heroes? Discuss your opinion of each character in terms of the Greek view of arete, or honor, and your own view of it. You may want to look back at your response to Journal 1.6A to assist you in answering the question.

4. The Iliad is primarily a war epic. In your opinion, is the Iliad condemnation of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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