Plot in Beowulf

Plot Examples in Beowulf:

IV 1

"Plainly to tell me what place ye are come from..."   (IV)

The presence of an unannounced ship full of heavily armed and armored men threatens Hrothgar's coast-guard. However, he does notice the regal bearing of their leader, our hero, and asks the group to declare their peaceful intentions before he allows them safe passage. This caution is not only appropriate with historical accounts, but it also illustrates how wary Hrothgar’s people have become since Grendel began his attacks.

"And bade him bide with his battle-equipments...."   (XI)

Beowulf fulfills his promise to battle Grendel without the aid of his “battle-equipments” (another kenning for weapons and armor). Beowulf justifies his choice by declaring that since Grendel doesn't use such equipment, he must fight Grendel on the same conditions. Considering what we later learn of Grendel, Beowulf's decision is viewed as extremely cunning.

"But on earliest occasion he quickly laid hold of           A soldier asleep..."   (XII)

Grendel slays one of the Geats when he first enters the hall—apparently in silence since only Beowulf is aware of the assault. The reason why Beowulf allows Grendel to kill one of his comrades can likely be attributed Beowulf's distance from the act or that Beowulf wishes to maintain the element of surprise.

"nor any of war-bills           Was willing to injure..."   (XIII)

Due to evil magic, Grendel cannot be harmed by weapons. Beowulf's earlier decision to match Grendel's strength with his own arms proves crucial to achieving victory. The poet never revealed this fact earlier in the story, likely because there were no survivors to confirm this claim.