Wednesday, September 4, 2013

beowulf essay topics

During today's on-the-ground classes, students suggested essay topics for Beowulf. Here are some of the topics that were mentioned:
• Explain how the use of allusions (to the Bible and other works) helps illuminate the theme of Beowulf
• Analyze the differences in the three fights and explain how they trace the development of Beowulf as a hero
• Was Beowulf’s confidence/cockiness an asset or a tragic flaw?
• Compare the idea of an honorable hero in Beowulf’s time to modern representations
• How do elements of language influence elements of literature? How does the language in Beowulf influence the reader’s understanding?
• Compare Beowulf to modern heroes; how they’re different, better/worse, characteristics (societies/differences in culture and how they affected individual perspectives and decisions)
• How does Beowulf represent everything the Norse stood for (morals, values etc.)?
• Compare myth & reality: which elements of Beowulf appear to reflect the reality of the time, and which elements serve storytelling purposes?
• How did the evolution of the English language favor some ideas and omit others?

·      In your opinion is Beowulf a prideful hero or just a reflection of the time period?  Do you think the character was intentionally designed for effect or merely a product of the times?
·      Compare Beowulf with a modern hero (Iron Man, e.g.).  How are the two personalities similar/different, and how do they suit their respective storylines?
·      Define the symbolism in Beowulf and explain how it developed the story.
·      Describe how Beowulf portrayed the morals, values and culture of the Danish people.
·      Compare Beowulf with a tragic hero from Ancient Greece.

Do you have any additional thoughts on what would make a good essay topic (i.e., what sort of prompt would invite you to share your knowledge about the poem)? Comment to this post with your suggestions. The essay topic will be posted by COB Friday, 9.6. The essay will be due on Monday, 9.9 (please bring handwritten or typed hard copy to class).


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