Translator: Burton Raffel Genre: epic poem Prompt



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Epic Hero Essay

Title: Beowulf

Author: unknown Anglo-Saxon poet

Translator: Burton Raffel

Genre: epic poem
Prompt: Justify why Beowulf is an epic hero and analyze what this reveals about Anglo-Saxon culture. You are proving/arguing that Beowulf fits the definition of an epic hero based on the four traits of an epic hero outlined in your notes.

  1. The hero is generally a male of noble descent and/or high position. He is usually of great historical or legendary importance.

  2. The hero’s character traits represent important morals/values of society.

  3. The hero performs courageous deeds.

  4. The hero’s actions often determine the fate of a nation of people.


Thesis: Your thesis should preview the reasons Beowulf is an epic hero (which you will discuss in your body paragraphs) AND offer some deeper insight (the “so what”) about what this reveals about Anglo-Saxon culture.

Basic template for thesis: Beowulf is an epic hero because _______; this reveals _______ about Anglo-Saxon culture.

Citations of textual evidence: Use backslashes to indicate the end of a line of poetry. Capitalize the beginning of the next line. Cite the translator’s last name and the line numbers in parentheses after the textual evidence. Use single quotation marks around dialogue (when a character is speaking).

Example: “And when Beowulf had bowed to his lord, / And standing in front of the throne had solemnly

/ Spoken loyal words, Higlac / Ordered him to sit at his side” (Raffel 1974-1978).


You need at least two pieces of textual evidence per body paragraph.
Sentence variety:

Use at least three different types of sentence openers in your essay.


Use a few appositive phrases.



Use several compound sentences.

  • Semi colon

Beowulf refuses to put his fellow Geats in harm’s way to combat the dragon; however, they fail to have the same concern for his well-being.
Anglo-Saxons’s lives were ruled by warfare; this is evident in the value they place on their weapons and armor.


  • Comma and conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)

The battle with Grendel is the first of Beowulf’s deeds of extreme valor, and he exhibits courage again when facing Grendel’s mother.


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