The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Fry, Donald K. "Finnsburh: A New Interpretation." 9 (1974): 1-14.
The poet recites Finnsburh to remind his audience of famous Danish victories in the face of Beowulf's recent victory over Grendel. Finnsburh links Wealtheow, Hildeburgh, and Freawaru, showing that they live where violence destroys life. Careful examination of the song also clarifies the meaning of eotena: they are giants, serving in Finn's army. A new reading of Hengest is in order since other works indicate that Anglo-Saxons could travel by sea in the winter. Hengest stays with Finn voluntarily, waiting for an opportunity to avenge Hnæf. This Danish feat parallels Beowulf's victory over Grendel and suggests a new interpretation of Hrothgar. Like Hengest, he lives with Grendel awaiting the vengeful moment.
Mandel, Jerome. "Contrast in Old English Poetry." 6 (1971): 1-13.
The various uses that Anglo-Saxon poets make of contrast in their poetry suggest that contrast is more than a rhetorical device: contrast is a structural principle. By contrasting words, lines, and groups of lines, the poet can suggest the thematic tensions of a work, such as the tension between peace and war. Examination of Beowulf, the Wanderer, the Dream of the Rood, and Deor demonstrates that contrast is a structural principle of Anglo-Saxon poetry that poets use to suggest the transitory nature of life.
Purdy, Strother B. "Beowulf and Hrothgar's Dream." 21 (1986): 257-73.
Analysis of the plot of Beowulf indicates that dreams tie the disparate elements together. Beowulf's story would not be possible if the monsters were not the product of the imagination, perhaps in dreams. Grendel is the spirit of fratricide in Hrothgar's nightmares. In order to conquer the monster, Hrothgar dreams a hero who can trounce the monster. Beowulf survives Hrothgar's phantasm and so gains an independent existence. Now he can participate in other stories. The dragon episode illustrates the danger of the inability to continue ruling in peace and prosperity. Beowulf dreams his death in the most heroic way: he dies with the deadly dragon.
Shaw, Brian A. "The Speeches in Beowulf: A Structural Study." 13 (1978): 86-92.
In the course of Beowulf, Beowulf makes fifteen speeches. In the first seven, he expresses deference to Hrothgar and voices his own position as a loyal retainer. In the last seven speeches, Beowulf expresses himself as a ruler. Beowulf shows himself to be both a loyal thane and an able ruler in the eighth speech. The speeches in each grouping parallel each other. The groupings also discuss evil thematically: the first 22 fits discuss the response of humans to evil in the world, and the last 22 fits suggest that this life is transitory and humans must continue to fight evil although it will never be entirely eradicated.