How To Write Beowulf Research Papers?

Beowulf is one of the oldest recorded epic stories in European history, and had a strong influence on numerous stories and legends that are still widely circulated today. Because of its historical importance, its facility with language, and the narrative elements it introduced, Beowulf is taught in many English classes, and many students in high school and college are expected to write research papers about this great work.

But Beowulf is a tricky topic to write about. The language isn’t the most accessible, and the themes are a little difficult to grasp, especially for an English student who does not have much experience working with antiquated works. Here is a guide for how to write a research paper on this challenging but fascinating subject.

Think About Linguistics

One of the reasons Beowulf is so important to English history is because of its linguistic contributions to the culture of storytelling. Many words are invented or used for the first documented time in Beowulf. If you can, pick up a guide on the use of language in Beowulf, or perform a quick internet search to get a sense of what in the story is unique and recently added to the language. This can help inform your essay.

Think About Narrative Structure

Also pay attention to the way the story is told and how it differs from conventional or more modern stories. Beowulf should remind you in many ways of other epic stories such as those from Greek mythology; it may also remind you of European fairy tales and other stories that involve the exploits of an epic hero. These patterns of storytelling are inherited, in part, from Beowulf and stories like it. Pay attention to how the Beowulf story unfolds and ask yourself how it has influenced the stories you consume on TV or in movies today.

Study the History

Look into what Europe was like in the time and place that Beowulf was written. Consider how the story was shared with other people who consumed and enjoyed it, in particular. Try to find a way to connect your historical research to the content of the story itself. What was life like for a person living around the time Beowulf was first written? If you grew up in those circumstances, how would you respond to a story such as this? How was the story shaped by the era and the way of life that surrounded it?

If you take these factors into account, you will have the start of an excellent essay on Beowulf. Read the story carefully, with keen attention to language, narrative, and historical contexts, and make notes accordingly. Your research paper will be all the better for it.