10 Interesting College-Level Essay Topics For Beowulf
Beowulf is one of the most studied early works of literature. Along with its epic tale and complex poetic structure, like many great works of literature, it tackles many universal themes. This is one of the aspects of it that continues to draw scholars and high school students alike to it—the reminder that the same things that were important and compelling to a writer and audience in the 8th or 11th century, are still compelling to us today.
If you’re writing an essay on Beowulf for a college class, narrowing down a topic can be a challenge because it is such a long and dense work. Use these topics as jumping off points:
- How are the themes of male dominance and patriarchy handled in Beowulf? And what was the historical precedence for this when it was written?
- How important a factor is ancestry to the warriors? How does it compare to other factors of self worth and societal worth for them?
- What is the importance of religion in Beowulf? How is it different from other literary works from the same time period?
- Are there any female heroines in Beowulf?
- What significance did the mead hall have in Beowulf? What is the modern day equivalent to the mead hall in hero archetypal stories?
- Would Beowulf have been elected if they used democracy as a structure of government? If he wouldn’t which other character would be most likely to be elected?
- Which character in Beowulf is the most well developed with psychological and moral complexity?
- How does Hrothgar’s sermon function as a window into the writer’s voice? What does it tell use that dialogue cant?
- What did Grendel’s claw serve as a symbol for?
- Is there a modern equivalent for the heroic code of comitatus in Beowulf?
As with any writing assignment, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand the assignment and your professor’s requirements and expectations for it. If you are unsure, or have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask them for clarification before you begin the writing process.
Another tip to keep in mind when choosing a paper topic is to choose something that you find interesting or identify with personally. Even if you’re not a big fan of Beowulf, if you’re going to be spending time writing a paper about it, you might as well choose a topic that wont make you hate every minute of it.
Posted by July 7th, 2016
Beowulf Research Paper Highlights: Commonly Discussed Angles
Beowulf is often classified as a story emerging from many years ago, retold and passed on through the ages. In actuality it was a poem a very long poem. It told the story of the main characters fight against dragons in Scandinavia. Beowulf comes to the aid of a neighboring kingdom as they struggle to fend off attacks from a dangerous monster, Grendel.
It has been viewed as a literary accomplishment, receiving great complements and plaudits throughout the years. Due to its stature in English literature, this poem has been studied in classrooms all over the globe, especially in the United Kingdom. There have been many treatises, papers, and presentations about the impact of the writing. As a student of literature, you may find yourself with an assignment to write a research paper about Beowulf. Here are some common angles to discuss in your paper:
- A guiding principal of loyalty. Beowulf is a warrior. He is well known and has a great reputation in his home country of Geatland. In the beginning, we get a feeling that Beowulf is being altruistic by lending his services to the neighboring kingdom of the Danes. However, we soon n learn that Beowulf is acting out of a sense of loyalty to the Hrothgar, the king. Sure, Beowulf wants to grow in stature as a warrior, and wants to make his own King proud of his accomplishments, as well as get paid, but a deep sense of loyalty to Hrohthgar is a driving force behind his actions. In addition, when Beowulf returns to his homeland, he exhibits a loyalty to his uncle and his king though his actions. Exploring this aspect of Beowulf’s character is a good place to begin a research paper.
- The battle between man and beast. The poem can be seen as occurring in three distinct and spatter acts, when Beowulf fights Grendel, when he fights Grendel’s mother, and when he finally battles the last dragon and succumbs to his fatal wounds. This is a classic good versus evil dichotomy, one that exists in many forms in literature and life. This angle con be extrapolated and applied to many situations throughout history,
This famous poem lends itself to many interpretations with images and symbols present in almost every line. By starting with the aforementioned ideas, you can capture many of the theses and issues raised in this poem. The discussion of Beowulf’s character, his interactions with others, and his actions will create a lot of fertile topics for discussion in your paper.