Beowulf Thesis Writing Prompts for College

Beowulf is a classic epic usually assigned in high school and college. It’s a complex poem with many themes and hidden meanings for you to address. We’ll provide you with a few question prompts to help you get started in handling your thesis in case you haven’t read Beowulf or have read it but it didn’t sink in the first time.

The prompts will also assist in structuring your draft and plotting out what you would like to touch upon in your thesis. These prompts may even be used to establish the overall theme of your thesis.

Prompts and Themes Suggestions

  • Good vs. Evil. This is a common theme in epics, folklore, mainstream television, movies, books, and comics. How does the battle between the two forces manifest in Beowulf?
  • Who is Beowulf? Tell the reader about this hero’s character. Not just physical description, but his personality. What motivates him to be just? How has Beowulf’s society around him sculpted him into the man he is?
  • What is the Grendel and what does it represent?
  • Explain the role of women in Beowulf. How the women in the poem are similar to women today and how are they different? How are the represented to the reader?
  • The battles in Beowulf. Describe them and the motivation on both sides of the conflicts. Was there revenge? Defending one’s lands and people? Rescuing someone?
  • The role of Christianity and Paganism in Beowulf. This poem was written in the 11th Century at a time when Christianity was spreading through Scandinavia. How would Christianity influence the culture of the Geats in Beowulf and did the Geats have any pagan rites they held on to?
  • The theme of retribution in Beowulf.
  • The role of morality in the poem.

There are a great deal of themes and topics in Beowulf to look into. Morality and religion is one of the main themes to explore and could actually make for a sole paper on its own.

Compare Beowulf to Other Heroes

Throughout history and cultures there are many heroes who could fit the mold—or a similar mold--of Beowulf. Roughly every culture has at least one hero or demigod of tremendous strength or character.

  • Gilgamesh
  • Hercules
  • Sundjata
  • Cuchulain
  • Yamato-takeru
  • Yu
  • Thesus
  • John Henry