Beowulf @ Ellis
Beowulf Quilt: Analysis
The epic poem, Beowulf, tells the story of a hero who receives glory after death from all his triumphs in battle. Beowulf, the hero, fights Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a dragon. He fights Grendel because Grendel terrorizes the people of King Hrothgar’s mead hall, Herot. He defeats Grendel’s mother after she attacks Herot to get revenge on the people who killed her son. The dragon was angry at Beowulf’s people because one of them stole a cup from his large stash of treasures. During the battle against this dragon, Beowulf dies, but he gains glory after death because he is a successful warrior. In these three battles Beowulf shows that he is a great warrior. My Beowulf project shows the success of Beowulf in these three important battles and shows the importance of heroism, hospitality, and being a good leader in the time of Beowulf.
My project shows the relevance of success hospitality in the society that Beowulf lives in the epic poem Beowulf. Hospitality is important in Beowulf because if Hrothgar had not allowed Beowulf to stay with him, Grendel and his mother might never have been defeated. I made a quilt to show the theme of comfort and acceptance of other people into one’s home which is very important in Beowulf. When staying at another person’s house, the host might offer the guest a blanket to keep you warm. In this way, Hrothgar graciously welcomes Beowulf and the other Geats into his mead hall and gives them many treasures, food, drink, and a nice place to stay. Hrothgar says to his servant, “I shall meet him with treasures/gifts to reward his courage in coming to us” (384-5). Another example of Hrothgar’s hospitality is when he offers to let Beowulf become like his son after he defeats Grendel. This hospitality strengthens after the two first battles that Beowulf fights. Hrothgar says, “You’ve turned Danes and Geats into brothers/ brought peace where once there was war/ and sealed friend ship with affection” (1855-8)
The other parts of the quilt also has different symbols from Beowulf. The swords on the outside of the quilt show that Beowulf was a successful warrior because swords are a very crucial part of being a good in battle. In the scene where Beowulf fights
Grendel’s mother, Beowulf uses a magic sword given to him by God to purge the lake of evil. When the sword melts it is described as “melted, blood soaked/ dripping down like water/ disappearing like ice when the world” (1605-7). This tells the reader how the sword was not only critical in defeating Grendel’s mother, but it was also essential to rid the lake of the evil things that were still in it. This shows that swords are important to the Danes and the Geats because Beowulf won this very important battle with the help of a sword. Swords also symbolize heroism and glory because people gained glory and heroism by fighting battles and defeating enemies. The hilt of the sword also was important because on it was the name of another famous warrior, who like Beowulf got glory in battle. The crown shows the importance of kingship in Beowulf. Kings in the time of Beowulf must be good to their thanes and be ring-givers. If they do these things then they will be good leaders. Hrothgar and Beowulf are both good leaders because their people are loyal to them and they had good, long reigns in Beowulf so I put a crown in the middle to show that they were good kings.
I represented the battles that Beowulf fought with the colors on the quilt. The gray represents the battle against Grendel in Hrothgar’s stone mead hall, Herot. Herot “was built to withstand the blows/ the struggling great bodies beating at its beautiful walls” (770-2). The stone aspect of Herot is important because it is the stone walls that allow Grendel to beat against them in his fight against Beowulf without breaking. The blue represents the battle against Grendel’s mother in the underwater cave. Although before the battle the lake is murky and discolored, after the battle Beowulf, with God’s help, eliminates the evil things and the lake was “calm clean/ the whole huge lake peaceful once the demons who’d lived in it were dead” (1620-1). The red represents Beowulf’s battle against the dragon in his fiery tower. Beowulf describes the entrance to the dragon’s tower as a “hidden entrance/too hot for anyone to stand/a streaming current of fire and smoke that blocked the passageway” (257-9). The fire of the dragon is important because it is what ultimately scares Beowulf’s men away, leaving him to fend for himself. This causes him to die because the only person who helps Beowulf is Wiglaf. All these colored squares are around the edge with the swords to symbolize that success in battle is crucial to becoming a good a leader like Beowulf and Hrothgar. The colored squares symbolize the three battles that Beowulf fights in Beowulf.
God is very important in Beowulf. Many times during the poem, Beowulf thanks God for helping him win his battles. God helps Beowulf in the first battle against Grendel because he allows Beowulf to defeat him. God, however, does not let Beowulf kill Grendel. In the second battle, God gives Beowulf the magic sword which helps him defeat Grendel’s mother and purge the lake of evil. In the third battle against the dragon, Beowulf is once again helped by God. God allows him to defeat the dragon before he dies so that he will receive much glory after he dies. Because God is so important in Beowulf, there is a cross on the crown to symbolize this. It is in the middle of the crown because it also symbolizes that because God did so much for him, Beowulf became the king of the Danes.
The jewels on the crown also symbolize things from the poem. I specifically put more light colorful jewels on then dark ones because in Beowulf light triumphs over dark. This can also be interpreted as good triumphing over evil. The jewels also symbolize all of the wonderful treasures given to Beowulf and his men from Hrothgar when he defeats Grendel and his mother. It also symbolizes all the treasure that the dragon hoards in his tower. Unlike the dragon Beowulf doesn’t just let his treasures rot and be nothing. If you have a crown, you wouldn’t just leave it somewhere to get all rusty, you would wear it. This is some advice from Hrothgar to Beowulf; that he should not just let his treasures sit around, useless.
My Beowulf project represents many aspects of the epic poem Beowulf. In it there is symbolism of the great battles fought by Beowulf. It also symbolizes Beowulf’s good rule as king of the Danes and heroism, something very important to the Danes and the Geats. It also shows the hospitality of Hrothgar when he lets Beowulf and the other Geats into his home so they can fight Grendel. All these things show how my Beowulf projects represent the epic poem, Beowulf.