Beowulf begins with a history of the Danish kings, starting with Shild and leading up to the reign of king Hrothgar, Shilds great-grandson. Hrothgar is well loved by his people and is successful in war. He builds a lavish hall ,called Herot, to house his vast army, and when the hall is finished the Danish soldiers gather under its roof to celebrate.

Grendel, a monster in human shape who lives at the bottom of a nearby swamp, is provoked by the singing and horsing around of Hrothgars followers. He appears at the hall late one night and kills thirty of the warriors in their sleep. For the next twelve years the fear of Grendels potential fury casts a shadow over the lives of the Danes. Hrothgar and his advisers can think of nothing to appease the monsters anger.

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Beowulf ,the prince of the Geats, hears about Hrothgars troubles, he gets fourteen of his bravest Geats, and sets sail from his home in Sweden. The Geats are greeted by the members of Hrothgars court, and Beowulf boasts to the king of his previous successes as a warrior, particularly his successes in fighting sea monsters. Hrothgar welcomes the arrival of the Geats, hoping that Beowulf will live up to his reputation. During the banquet that follows Beowulfs arrival, Unferth, a Danish soldier, voices doubt about Beowulfs past accomplishments, and Beowulf, in turn, accuses Unferth of killing his brothers. Before retiring for the night, Hrothgar promises Beowulf great treasures if he meets with success against the monster.
Grendel appears on the night of the Geats arrival at Herot. Beowulf, true to his word, wrestles the monster barehanded. He tears off the monsters arm at the shoulder, but Grendel escapes, only to die soon afterward at the bottom of his snake-infested swamp. The Danish warriors, who had fled the hall in fear, return singing songs in praise of Beowulfs triumph. Hrothgar keeps his word and rewards Beowulf with the treasures he had promised. After another banquet all of the soldiers go to sleep.

Not knowing the warriors, Grendel had a mother and she was plotting to take revenge for her son. She arrives at the hall when everybody is sleeping and carries off Esher, Hrothgars chief advisor. Beowulf, rising to the occasion, offers to dive to the bottom of the lake, find the monsters home, and destroy her. he and his men follow the monsters tracks to the cliff overlooking the lake where Grendels mother lives. They see Eshers bloody head floating on the surface of the lake. While preparing for battle, Beowulf ask Hrothgar to protect his warriors , and to send his treasures to his uncle, king Higlac, if he doesnt return alive.

During the ensuing battle Grendels mother carries Beowulf to her underwater home. After a terrible fight Beowulf kills the monster with a magical sword that he finds on the wall of her home. He also finds Grendels dead body, cuts off the head, and returns to land, where the Geat and Danish warriors are waiting for him. Beowulf has now cleaned Denmark of the race of evil monsters.

The warriors return to Hrothgars court, where the Danish king delivers a sermon to Beowulf on the dangers of pride and on the fleeting nature of fame and power. The Danes and Geats prepare a feast in celebration of the death of the monsters. In the morning the Geats hurry to their boat, anxious to begin the trip home. Beowulf says farewell to Hrothgar and tells the old king that if the Danes ever need help he will gladly come to their assistance. Hrothgar presents Beowulf with more treasures and they embrace, emotionally, like father and son.

The Geats sail home. After recounting the story of his battles with Grendel and Grendels mother, Beowulf tell king Higlac about the feud between Denmark and their enemies, The Hathoboards. He describes the proposed peace settlement, in which Hrothgar will give his daughter Freaw to Ingeld, king of the Hathoboards, but he predicts that the peace settlement wont last long. Higlac rewards Beowulf for his bravery with territory, swords, and houses.

The meeting between Higlac and Beowulf marks the end of the first part of the poem. In the next part is dead, and Beowulf has been king of the Geats for fifty years. A thief steals a jeweled cup from a sleeping dragon who avenges his loss by flying through the night burning down houses, including Beowulfs own hall and throne. Beowulf goes to the cave where the dragon lives, vowing to destroy it single-handed. Hes an old man now, however, and his strength is not as great as it was when he fought against Grendel. During the battle Beowulf breaks his sword against the dragons side; the dragon, enraged, engulfs Beowulf in flames and wounds him in the neck. All of Beowulfs followers flee except Wiglaf, who rushes through the flames to assist the aging warrior. Wiglaf stabs the dragon with his sword, and Beowulf, in a final act of courage, cut the dragon in half with his knife.

Yet the damage is done. Beowulf realizes that hes dying, that he has fought his last battle. He asks Wiglaf to bring him the dragons storehouse of treasures; seeing the jewels and gold will make him feel that the effort has been worthwhile. He instructs Wiglaf to build a tomb to be known as Beowulfs Tower on the edge of the sea. After Beowulf dies, Wiglaf admonishes the troops who deserted their leader when he was fighting against the dragon. He tells them that they have been untrue to the standards of bravery, courage, and loyalty that Beowulf has taught.
Wiglaf sends a messenger to a nearby encampment of Geat soldiers with instructions to report the outcome of the battle. The messenger predicts that the enemies of the Geats will feel free to attack that know that their king is dead. Wiglaf supervises the building of the funeral pyre. In keeping with Beowulfs instructions, the dragons treasures is buried alongside Beowulfs ashes in the tomb. The poem ends as it began with the funeral of a great warrior. The major theme of this poem was the battle between good and evil.

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Some Things Change But Most Remain the Same
Masculine values have both changed and remained constant since the writing of Beowulf. The values that Beowulf and the other male characters in the epic put different things such as fast horses, weaponry, and many other things has remained constant throughout time. Though some of their values such as adorning themselves with jewelry has become less of a value for most all the values that men had in that time has remained constant.
Beowulf and the other men in the epic put great value on things such as fast horses, weaponry, travel, strong ships, jewelry, and grand estates. All of these things were a large part of their society. Having fast horses allowed them to travel across land at great speed. Good weaponry protected them and made them feel secure. They were seafaring men so they loved travel and going to new lands for more adventure. Strong ships helped them travel further. It was important in that time to have jewelry and property to show how great of a warrior you were.Most of these values have remained constant in some form in modern times.
Modern men put value on many of the same things that men in Beowulf’s time did, but for different reasons. Modern men still like to travel fast, but not with horses. Today modern men use cars and motorcycle in the same way that man of Beowulf’s time used horses. Men today still like to have weaponry for self-protection. Only today we use firearms more than blades. Men still love to travel and go on adventures much like men did in Beowulf’s time. Men still like sailing on ships only we don’t use ships to travel further any more it is more for recreational purposes. Modern men still love grand estates mostly for the same reason as men in Beowulf’s time did to show how successful you are. One value that men of Beowulf’s time had that men of this time do not put a large value on is jewelry. Men of Beowulf’s time adorned themselves with grand and beautiful gold and silver jewelry but the most jewelry that modern man wears is a watch and wedding, engagement, or a class ring. Modern men do not adorn themselves with elaborate jewelry like men of Beowulf’s time.
In conclusion most of the values that men put on things in Beowulf’s time are the same values that modern men have. Even though modern men and men of Beowulf’s time are separated by a over a thousand years values of men have remained the same for the simple reason that both modern men and men of Beowulf’s time like to have fun and go on great adventures