English IV Vocabulary from ML Literature

Beowulf Vocabulary


  1. Gape-v. to stare at with wonder or amazement


  1. Lament- n./v. a cry of mourning or sorrow/ to cry out in sorrow


  1. Taut- adj. tight; emotionally strained


  1. Relish-v. to enjoy greatly


  1. Reparation-n. repayment, compensation


  1. Pilgrimage-n. a trip made for a religious or historical purpose


  1. Spawn-n. to create or produce


  1. Moor-n. a wasteland, an expanse of rolling, infertile land


  1. Shroud-n. a burial cloth


  1. Solace-n. comfort in a time of grief or trouble


  1. Murky- adj. gloomy, cloudy, unclear


  1. Loathsome-adj. disgusting


  1. Cower-v. to shrink back in fear


  1. Lair-n. home of a wild animal


  1. Omen-n. a prophetic sign


  1. Heathen-adj./n. uncivilized, pagan/ one who is uncivilized or who does not recognize the Christian God


  1. Infamous- adj. having a very bad reputation


  1. Livid- adj. discolored from being bruised


  1. Purge- v. to cleanse or get rid of something undesirable


  1. Affliction- n. a force that causes suffering or oppresses


  1. Gorge- v. to stuff with food; glut


  1. Talon- n. a claw


Using your word list, fill in the blank with the most appropriate word. You may need to add word endings.

1.       The dirty waters of the ______ pool did not invite us to take a swim.

2.       After a hard week at work, Mrs. Crane ______ a chance to relax and read a book.

3.       Learning that her kitten had been hit by a car, the little girl gave a loud, heartbreaking ______.

4.       I need to _______ the old, worn-out clothes from my closet.

5.       Superstitious people believe that a having a black cat cross in front of them is a/an ______ of bad luck.

6.       Secure the boat to the dock by making the rope _____ so that the boat cannot drift.

7.       The wolf crept into its ______ to sleep.

8.       The angry mother slapped her disobedient child’s hand, but she hit him so hard that she left a/an _______ mark there.

9.       Brainstorming sessions help creative individuals to _______ new ideas.

10.   Threatened by the bully, the small child _______ in fear against the wall.

11.   Arthritis can be a crippling _______.

12.   We put on boots to trek through the boggy _______.

13.   The insurance company offered monetary _______ for Tom’s injuries in the accident.

14.   Al Capone was a/an ________ criminal whose name was often in the papers in the 1930’s.

15.   The children _______ themselves on the Halloween candy before their mother realized how much they had eaten.

16.   We all ________ at teacher when she wore a clown costume to school.

17.   The bear scratched the tree with its sharp ______.

18.   The missionary was sent to convert the _______.

19.   The most famous ______ is the one that supposedly covered Jesus in the tomb.

20.   Some people like snakes, but others find them to be ________ creatures.

21.   We sent sympathy cards to the family to offer them _______ in their mourning.

22.   Muslims are required to take a/an _______ to Mecca if they can.
Study Questions for the Historical Introduction

Study Questions for pp.18-23: The Anglo-Saxon Period  (449-1066 A.D.)

Tip: Although most of the answers are in order, some of these questions require an understanding of the entire selection because some answers are found throughout. Look over all of the questions first, give the selection a quick first reading, and then reread the selection carefully to answer the questions.

1.       Why was Anglo-Saxon literature often dark and gloomy?

2.       Who were the first important inhabitants of Britain prior to the Romans? What can you infer was one contribution these early people made?

3.       What contributions did the Romans make to Britain?

4.       When and from where did the Anglo-Saxons come to Britain?

5.       What contributions to Britain did the Anglo-Saxons make?

6.       What is one way the Anglo-Saxons apparently differed from the Romans?

7.       Where did the invading Vikings come from?

8.       Were the Vikings more like the Romans or the Anglo-Saxons? Explain.

9.       Why was Alfred considered great?

10.   Why did William, duke of Normandy, invade Anglo-Saxon England?

11.   What were the social and political effects of this conquest?

12.   How did this conquest affect the Old English language?

13.   In what ways did the early religious beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons differ from their later beliefs

14.   What important roles did monasteries play?

15.   How might monasteries have affected Anglo-Saxon works like Beowulf?

16.   What was the language of the Church and of scholarship and learning? Why wasn’t the language Old English?

17.   Besides providing entertainment, why were epic poems like Beowulf important to the Anglo-Saxons?

18.   How might Anglo-Saxon literature have been different if it had been written rather than oral?

19.   Although Bede with his History of the English Church and People and King Alfred with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle were both important literary and historical figures, their works were different in major respects. How did the languages in which each was written differ? Who were the different intended audiences for each?

20.   How are Old English and Modern English similar?

21.   What is one way the two languages differ?
Study Questions for Beowulf

Beowulf Discussion Questions

After reading the Beowulf selections, write your reflections on each of the following questions in well-organized and developed paragraphs. Cite textual evidence to support your answers.


1.     Does Beowulf as a man embody the Anglo-Saxon heroic ideals? Does he meet YOUR criteria for a hero? Why, or why not?


2.     What does this story say about the conflict between good and evil? Consider the following questions: How do we determine what is evil? How do we identify evil? How may our point of view affect our answer to this question? Were the monsters in this story evil? If so, were they evil to the same degree?


3.     Beowulf has sometimes been criticized for hubris, excessive pride. Do you feel this charge is justified? Why, or why not?


4.     Do you feel our society shares the same values as those seen in Beowulf? Explain?


5.     Find an example of each of the following literary devices in the story: personification, alliteration, caesura, onomatopoeia, epithet, and kenning.

Anglo-Saxon Literary Terms

1. Epic- a long, narrative poem about a hero and his society's values

2. Epithet- a brief phrase or adjectives that point out traits of a person or thing. Examples: America the Beautiful, "the great runner "(Achilles), rosy-fingered (in Homer's "rosy-fingered dawn")

3. Kenning- a metaphorical compound renaming simpler nouns. Examples: "whale road" (sea) "shepherd of evil" (Grendel)

4. Alliteration- repetition of beginning consonant sounds

5. Personification- giving human traits to non-humans

6. Caesura- a pause, split, or break in a line of poetry.

Example: " He took what he wanted, // all the treasures"

7. Onomatopoeia- use of words whose sounds echo their meanings. Examples: crack, buzz, pop

Practice: Label each of the following with the term most evident in the sentence.

1. The angry wind snatched my hat off my head and threw it into the gutter.

2. Her acts of kindness, seeds of love, grew in the hearts of all whom she met.

3. Alfred the Great is considered to be the best Anglo-Saxon leader.

4. When Stephen swung the bat, he heard a loud snap and felt a pain shoot through his shoulder.

5. Grendel, a powerful, demonic monster, tormented the villagers for many years.

1. Personification- The wind had human emotions and hands that snatched and threw.
2. Kenning- "Seeds of love" metaphorically renames her acts of kindness. They are not literal seeds but acts that will bear good fruit.
3. Epithet- The phrase "the best Anglo-Saxon" describes the literal noun leader, something Alread really was.
4. Onomatopoeia- The "snap" is the sound we'd really hear from a shoulder that was dislocated by a hard swing.
5. Epithet (or kenning)- The adjectives "a powerful, demonic" describe a literal monster, Grendel-- but this entire phrase can be a kenning if you don't think he was literally a monster.

Epic Elements

1. Superhuman hero

2. Large-scale battle affecting many lives

3. Long, boasting speeches

4. Elevated language

5. Characters and weapons

6. Supernatural agents of good and evil aiding opposing sides

7. In medias res- beginning in the middle of the action

8. Invocation of the muse

9. Announcement of the theme at the beginning

Cycles in Beowulf

Hibernation Cycle -  the seasonal cycle of life
Beowulf- "enemy of the bear who fights like a bear"
Bear- a creature associated with hibernation (sleep/death)
Spring- new life, rebirth
Summer - growth, maturity
Fall- old age, decline
Winter- death
Battle I- spring/summer (Beowulf was experienced but not mature enough to come prepared for Grendel, whom he fought with bare hands.)
Battle II- summer (Beowulf had learned and matured from Battle I and came with a sword for this battle.)
Battle III- fall/winter (Beowulf, an old man, met his death, his winter, in this battle, but Wiglaf began the cycle anew.)

Initiation Cycle

Battle I

Foe: Grendel

Preparation: None ( armor, useless men, and bare hands)

Initiation: manhood, warriorhood, life, and evil

Battle II

Foe: Grendel's mother

Prep.: Sword, armor

Initiation: Greater evil, the unknown, kingship

Battle III

Foe: Dragon (Satanic symbol)

Prep.: Sword, armor, men

Initiation: Greatest evil, death


1. How does the hibernation cycle reflect Beowulf's (and our) life cycle?

2. Why is it called a cycle?

3. How does the initiation cycle reflect Beowulf's increasing maturity?

4. How do the hibernation and initiation cycles relate to each other?

Beowulf Writing Responses  Form B

Select one of the following topics to develop in a composition with a topic sentence or introductory paragraph, supporting details and examples, and a concluding sentence (clincher) or concluding paragraph.


1. For whom would you be willing to die? Why?

2. Is it harder to live or to die for a cause? Explain.

3. For what cause or belief would you be willing to devote, and possibly sacrifice, your life?

4. Would you rather have a short, happy life with a violent death or a long, boring life with a peaceful death?

5. Who is your personal hero? Why?

6. What would you consider to be your Grendel, the greatest challenge you have faced so far? How have you met that challenge? How has facing it caused you to grow or affected you?

7. What do you feel is your unknown, the murky, unclear “waters” that you will figuratively dive into one day? How have you prepared for this challenge? What are the positive outcomes you anticipate from successfully facing it?

8. Do you consider yourself an adult? Why, or why not? If not, what traits do you feel you need to acquire? When do you think you will become an adult? Is age a factor?

9. How have you emotionally changed, grown, or matured since you were a high school freshman?

10. What do you think is the greatest challenge people face? What do you think your greatest challenge will be? How are you preparing for it?

11. Joseph Addison (1672-1719) once said, “Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing. Only one thing endures, and that is character.” How do you think Anglo-Saxons would react to this statement? How do you react to it?

12. To the Anglo-Saxon warriors, as we saw in Beowulf, being remembered as brave, honorable, and noble was important. For what do you want to be remembered? What do you want to leave as your legacy?


Review for Anglo-Saxon Unit Test


I.                    Characters:  Identify each character being described.


  1. Beowulf’s uncle
  2. King of the Danes
  3. Beowulf’s loyal soldier in Battle III
  4. Grendel’s human grandfather
  5. “a mighty water witch”
  6. a symbol for the devil
  7. Beowulf’s king
  8.  was killed when decapitated by a magical sword
  9. “prince of the Geats”
  10. “ the strongest of the Geats”
  11. “Healfdane’s son”
  12. “that shepherd of evil”


II.                 Structure: Fill in the blank with the answer relating to the structure of the story.


  1. Beowulf is a/an _____, a long poem that tells a story about a hero and his society’s values.
  2. The symbolic passage of the seasons of life in this story is said to be the ______ cycle.
  3. When Beowulf is in Battle I, he uses no weapons, but he does have some previous fighting experience. Therefore, he is between the seasons ______ and ______.
  4. Having learned from his experience with Grendel, he matures and realizes that he needs to be more prepared when he fights Grendel’s mother. Which season is he now in?
  5. After ruling as king for fifty years, Beowulf, an old man, enters the season _____.
  6. When he, Beowulf enters the season ____ while Wiglaf enters the season _____.
  7. In Battle I, Beowulf demonstrates independence and responsibility and is initiated into _____, _____, _____, and ______.
  8. The story teaches that we will be given greater challenges when we successfully meet deal with those life presents. What is the greater challenge, or greater evil, Beowulf faces in Battle II?
  9. Because he faces his opponent on the enemy’s territory, he is initiated into the ____.
  10. He faces greatest evil and death in Battle III when he faces a dragon, which symbolizes the _____.



III.               Literary Devices


Using the word bank below, identify the literary device seen in each.


Alliteration   Kenning   Epithet   Personification  Onomatopoeia


  1. “I’m not a bottomless treasure chest!” complained Wendy’s boyfriend as she asked him for the expensive necklace.
  2. The click of the pen annoyed me.
  3. “He’s a diligent worker,” commented Mr. Davis as he wrote a recommendation for the young employee.
  4. We heard the owl’s hoot and the distant rumble of a train as we in our tent.
  5. Creeping quietly through the front door, Doug dragged his weary way to bed, trying not to awaken his family.
  6. A fierce lion, Mr. Wilson frightened the children from his yard with a loud roar.
  7. Neil knows how to knot the rope, even though his hands are gnarled and arthritic.
  8. Dr. Franklin is a storehouse of knowledge and will help us on our research paper.
  9. The headlights of the car glared menacingly at the oncoming traffic.
  10. As we sat in the assembly listening to the speech, time seemed to creep by on slow, weary legs.


IV.              Historical Background


A.  Using the word bank below, identify each group described.


Romans   Vikings    Anglo-Saxons    Normans   Celts


  1. Established Christian monasteries as centers of writing and leaning
  2. Were the first important inhabitants of Britain
  3. Valued fame and comitatus
  4. Had a class of priests called Druids
  5. Ended the Anglo-Saxon rule in 1066 A.D.
  6. Introduced pronouns and legal terms and simplified the English language by removing inflectional endings
  7. Had four social classes and selected leaders through a witan
  8. Gave us our alphabet
  9. Introduced the Old English language in 449 A.D.
  10. Like the Anglo-Saxons, had an oral literature
  11. Were warlike people from Denmark, Sweden, and Germany who had a similar culture and language
  12. Had written literature and used Latin, the language of the Church and learning
  13. Came from France
  14. Were only partly successful in invading England; established trading centers
  15. Used a Germanic, runic alphabet called futhorc
  16. Had a king who started the first history written in English, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle


V. Sequencing: Number the following events in the order in which they occurred in Beowulf.


1. _____ Wiglaf becomes king of the Geats.

2. _____ Grendel’s mother seeks to avenge her son’s death.

3. _____ Beowulf boasts that no man except him could hope to defeat the dragon.

4. _____ Grendel begins his attacks on the Danish meadhall Herot.

5. _____ Beowulf presents his credentials to King Hrothgar.

6. _____ The Danes sing praises to the Almighty for His beautiful creation.

7. _____ Beowulf returns with Grendel’s head and the hilt of a magic sword.

8. _____ Beowulf’s men hack uselessly with their swords.

9. _____ Beowulf is wrapped in the flames of his enemy, receiving mortal wounds.

10. _____ Beowulf sees a magical sword in an underwater lair and uses it to defeat his enemy.





Anglo-Saxon Historical Intro.


The__ __were the first important inhabitants of Britain. A group of ____named the ___________ gave Britain its name.  These inhabitants had a nature-oriented religion headed by a class of priests/mediators named _________. Despite having an advanced civilization with the first __________ across present-day Europe, the first industrial revolution, and __________ rights, the Celts were a Dark Age people with an  _______ literature that focused on religion, history, and tales of fantastic adventures and strong women. One of the ancient Celtic heroes was a rough-and-ready warrior named _ _______    ________ .  Because of their vast landholdings, the Celts contributed many __________ that entered the English language later.


The second inhabitants, the __successfully overran the Celts around ______ A.D., about 100 years after their first attempt. They were known for their warfare, architectural developments and the construction of a defensive wall known as __Hadrian's Wall______   _______ and   for roads.  They also introduced their faith, __Christianitty__________. Missionaries established centers of faith and education known as ___monasteries________. These places also were the centers of cultural preservation because the monks were the scribes who recorded written works. The language of these invaders and their missionaries was ___Latin_______.  While the Celts gave us place names, the literate Romans emphasized education and gave us their ___________ and __________ literature. The Romans contributed about ________ learned words, many dealing with _________. The Romans left Britain around ________ A.D.  to attend to crises elsewhere.


Three groups of people, the _________, _________, and _________, invaded England from northern Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, thus beginning the Anglo-Saxon period in the year _______ A.D. Because of their origins, they are known as Germanic, or __________, people.  They had a common language which became known as ______   _________. Like the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons had an  ______ literature. They seldom wrote but composed and transmitted their works orally except for occasional carvings using a _______ alphabet known as _________. We get our   ________ most commonly used words from Old English.

The Anglo-Saxon society was composed of families, clans, tribes, and kingdoms that often fought with one another. England was composed of warring kingdoms and was not considered a nation. However, the king of Wessex, named _______   _____  _______, was the most famous of the Anglo-Saxon kings.



The chief Anglo-Saxon king, ________ _____ _______, was famous for many reasons. He encouraged the use of the Anglo-Saxon language, _______    _________.  Although most Anglo-Saxons were illiterate, Alfred was educated and promoted education. He started the writing of the first historical record written in the English language, known as ____   __________   ___________.  He also united the different Anglo-Saxon kingdoms against the third invaders, the __________. He also promoted peace by adopting the Roman faith, ____________, which united the Anglo-Saxons under a common belief.


Anglo-Saxons had four social classes : _________, __________, __________, and ________. In a roughly democratic society, a council of elders chose the next leader. This council was called a ________. Because the Anglo-Saxons often engaged in war, they valued characteristics of a successful warrior, such as strength and bravery. They also valued  _______ in their leaders, who were to provide rewards , mead, and a fellowship hall for celebrations, which was a place known as a ______ ______. The relationship of loyalty between a king and his faithful warriors was called __________.

 Because Anglo-Saxon warriors, or thanes, felt that death was always near and were a pessimistic people, they felt that the only way to achieve immortality was through _______.  They believed in an impersonal destiny, or ________, that controlled their lives. Later, they accepted the belief in __________ that the Romans had introduced.


Although Alfred the Great was successful in preserving some of Anglo-Saxon England against the invading _______, these invaders were partly successful. Contributions they made were beer brewing, the establishment of trading centers that grew into _________, the simplification of the English language by the removal of ___________  ________  _________, the use of pronouns, and about ________ words. These words were place names, common words, and legal terms.

In ________ A.D. the Anglo-Saxon Period ended with the conquest of England by the _________ from __________ . These invaders were led by __________ the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, who claimed the old English king, named _________   _____   ____________, had promised him the English throne in return for military allegiance.  However, the English council of elders, the witan, had selected King Harold.  William defeated Harold, and a new age, the _________   _______, began with the introduction of the _________ culture, language, literature, and government.
Celts, Celts                                     
Druids, common market
King Arthur
place names
Romans, 50
Hadrian's Wall
alphabet, written, 400
Christianity, 410
Angles, Saxons, Jutes
Old English, oral
runic, futhorc, 100
Alred the Great
Alfred the Great
Old English
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
freemen, earls, churls, thralls
mead hall
complex word endings
1066, Normans
Edward the Confessor
Medieval Period, or Middle Ages

If you have taken the time to study and review these notes, I am offering you a "silent bonus." I will not announce this. When you take the essay portion of your exam, write the following at the bottom of your essay for three bonus points: Bonus: Hubris- excessive pride. 












Last Modified on December 18, 2014