5.02 Beowulf Journal

Preparatory Instructions

Make sure to read Beowulf before completing this assignment, as well as some very cursory research into the main 3 (or 4 depending on who you ask) schools of ethics. 

Assignment Instructions

In our discussions, we’ve probably talked about Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, and the Dragon as if they’re all evil, but nobody is PURE evil. Craft a defense of one of the three antagonists that shows their actions were not evil, but misguided or misunderstood. Support your argument with evidence from the text, and connect the discussion to their roles in the story and the four classical virtues.


  1. Students will be able to analyze literary texts and articulate their findings orally and in writing.
  2. Students will be able to identify distinctions between people of different cultures and eras as well as continuities and similarities that provide common ground for effective intercultural communication and understanding.
  3. Students will be able to analyze and knowledgeably discuss the relationship between literature and language and the premodern historical and cultural contexts in which they are produced.

Expectations/Grading Criteria

The best examples of this journal will include ideas about the relationships between characters, laws and morals, or utilitarianism and deontology, and will provide an explanation for why that theory makes the villain’s actions understandable.