10 Interesting College-Level Essay Topics For Beowulf
Beowulf is one of the most studied early works of literature. Along with its epic tale and complex poetic structure, like many great works of literature, it tackles many universal themes. This is one of the aspects of it that continues to draw scholars and high school students alike to it—the reminder that the same things that were important and compelling to a writer and audience in the 8th or 11th century, are still compelling to us today.
If you’re writing an essay on Beowulf for a college class, narrowing down a topic can be a challenge because it is such a long and dense work. Use these topics as jumping off points:
- How are the themes of male dominance and patriarchy handled in Beowulf? And what was the historical precedence for this when it was written?
- How important a factor is ancestry to the warriors? How does it compare to other factors of self worth and societal worth for them?
- What is the importance of religion in Beowulf? How is it different from other literary works from the same time period?
- Are there any female heroines in Beowulf?
- What significance did the mead hall have in Beowulf? What is the modern day equivalent to the mead hall in hero archetypal stories?
- Would Beowulf have been elected if they used democracy as a structure of government? If he wouldn’t which other character would be most likely to be elected?
- Which character in Beowulf is the most well developed with psychological and moral complexity?
- How does Hrothgar’s sermon function as a window into the writer’s voice? What does it tell use that dialogue cant?
- What did Grendel’s claw serve as a symbol for?
- Is there a modern equivalent for the heroic code of comitatus in Beowulf?
As with any writing assignment, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand the assignment and your professor’s requirements and expectations for it. If you are unsure, or have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask them for clarification before you begin the writing process.
Another tip to keep in mind when choosing a paper topic is to choose something that you find interesting or identify with personally. Even if you’re not a big fan of Beowulf, if you’re going to be spending time writing a paper about it, you might as well choose a topic that wont make you hate every minute of it.