Beowulf Themes

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Beowulf


Beowulf Themes

Example



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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work, and they add richness to stories. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to analyze without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our supplementary article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich themes in Beowulf in order to gain a deeper understanding of the story.


Beowulf Themes to Look For and Discuss

The Importance of Customs

Beowulf is saturated with the importance of customs and following them. These fierce medieval warriors had strong laws and customs to reduce bloodshed and keep the clans together. Beliefs about hospitality, loyalty, and valor were particularly strong. See if your students can find examples of each in the text.


Good vs. Evil

In the epic, the battle between good and evil is made very literal. The good is represented by the brave warriors, both Danes and Geats, while the evil is represented by the threatening monsters in the form of Grendel, his mother, and the dragon.


Brains over Brawns

A prominent theme in many epic stories is the use of wit over brute strength. In Beowulf's case, although he possesses the strength to win battles, his cunning is an invaluable asset. A prime example is when he tricks Grendel and tears off Grendel's arm.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Beowulf. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Beowulf you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for the example(s) that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.

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Rubric

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