Mrs. Hricko

Melissa High School





Image by J.R. Skelton

Gale Literature Resource Center

Gale databases at the

McKinney Public Library

Library Web Site

Library Search

Writing about literature

from the Purdue OWL










Literary Criticism Articles


DO NOT print these! Some are very long. Please copy and paste the parts you need into a Word document and print only that.


Background Information


If you take the time to read this stuff you will understand the story better and the criticism articles will make more sense. Trust me.

Heorot and the Guest-Hall of Eden: Symbolic Metaphor and the Design of Beowulf

Explains the thematic importance of the mythic elements in four major symbolic episodes in Beowulf.


Overview: Beowulf

It’s, um, an overview. Gives a stanza by stanza summary and explanation of the poem.

Narrative Technique in Beowulf

Culbert examines the points of view used and the excitement generated in each of Beowulf’s three battles and concludes that Beowulf’s last two battles– with Grendel’s mother and the dragon– are anti-climactic.


Sparks Notes: Beowulf

Use it to clarify what you’ve read, not as a replacement for reading! Summarizes the plot of each stanza. Describes all the characters. Good background information.

The Analogical Mere: Landscape and Terror in Beowulf

Asserts that the author’s description of Grendel’s Mere or pool is meant to be nightmarish, not realistic.


The Adventures of Beowulf

This is a really nice translation of the poem. It’s very reader-friendly. Click on the links at the bottom of the page to read each part, starting with “The Adventure Begins Here!”

The Structural Unity of Beowulf: The Problem of Grendel’s Mother

Contrasts Grendel’s mother with the feminine ideal and analyses her fight with Beowulf as a transition between the battles with Grendel and the dragon.


Resources for the Study of Beowulf

The link titled The Language of Beowulf is a big help in making sense of the original text.

The Christian Theme of Beowulf

Author contends that the story and symbolism are only coherent when the poem is given a Christian interpretation.


Beowulf for Beginners

Has a who’s who guide. Tells the story in prose instead of poetry. Click the link titled “The Scandinavian Connection” to find out about the evidence for a real Beowulf in history.

From Beowulf

See what Irish Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney (who has written an excellent translation of Beowulf) has to say about the poem.


Google Scholar An easy way to focus your Google search on scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources including literary criticism.


Long article that covers themes, structure, history, and language of the poem. You will have to scan it to find what you want.



Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

This is part of a speech give by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien! He talks about language, meter, theme, structure, Christianity, the hero’s journey, and why Beowulf is a great poem.















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Last update 1/5/2012