Friday, October 12, 2012

Paper #2

English IV & AP
Paper #2 assignment: Beowulf and Grendel
Mr. L. Coon
October, 2012

A few of you asked for a little advance notice about the next paper assignment. While I will post more complete details in a few days, here is what I know so far.

Length: 600-750 words (2-3 pages)

Goal: Narrow and deep. Repeat after me: narrow and deep. That’s your mantra for this assignment. Write a concise opening paragraph, clearly identifying your key point in the form of a provable thesis, then develop that point in 3-4 further paragraphs. Maintain a tight focus on the central idea throughout; no extraneous comparisons or digressions. Offer a few ESSENTIAL pieces of evidence and draw the most specific conclusions you can about their importance.

  • What is Grendel’s “arc” as a character in the novel Grendel? In what important ways does he grow, change, or develop?
  • Gardner suggests that the Danes are unhappy with the arrival of the Geats. Take a close look at the passage in Beowulf describing their arrival and reception. On what does Gardner base his interpretation?
  • Look at the character of Wealhtheow in both versions, especially chapter 7 of Grendel and the celebratory banquet after the slaying of Grendel’s mother in Beowulf? What are the key features of her character? Are the two portrayals consistent? Is there more to her than meets the eye?
  • What does it mean to be a hero?
  • What is glory? Why is it important?
  • Put the two versions of Beowulf’s argument with Unferth side by side. Then consider the most important differences. How do those differences give that scene two very different meanings?
  • Contrast Grendel’s view of Beowulf to that of the Beowulf poet? What effect does Gardner create by giving such a different view of Grendel’s killer?
  • Several of you noted similarities between Grendel and Frankenstein’s creature. How far do those similarities go? Are there essential differences in their roles in these two novels?

Serious caveat: there is way too much information available online on some of these questions. My very strong advice to you is to do no online research whatsoever. You will only run the risk of inadvertently or deliberately plagiarizing that material. Think about your interpretation of the question and go from there.