Chapter Fourteen: The Firedrake


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Beowulf: A New Telling

Study Guide

Chapters 14-16

Chapter Fourteen: The Firedrake

  1. Describe life for Beowulf’s people during his forty years as king.

They lived in a time of peace. Children grew up who knew no more of violence than they did of picking flowers.

  1. How did Beowulf spend his days as king during these years?

Tending to his bees. He said that he learned a lot from the bees about how to rule wisely. The world of the bees had order and beauty.

  1. What did the slave do to provoke the firedrake? Why?

He steals a jeweled cup from the chamber of the firedrake. The slave steals it to give to his master to attempt to avoid a beating. The firedrake becomes agitated that his treasure was disturbed.
What ultimately happened to the slave? To the firedrake?

The slave is able to escape from the firedrake because the firedrake was swollen with anger and could not fit through the opening to his chamber.

Chapter Fifteen: Beowulf Against The Firedrake

  1. How does the firedrake retaliate?

He comes down to the town and burns it to the ground. Houses, churches, fields of grain are all destroyed. Nothing is spared. Even the streams caught fire and burned away.

  1. When Beowulf learns what the slave did and how he’s responsible for the firedrake’s attack, what does Beowulf say to do to the slave?

He says to let him eat honey.
According to Wiglaf, what is Beowulf really asking his men to do?

He is stating to find pity for someone who was driven by despair to do something eh will always regret.

Where else have we seen Beowulf treat an enemy or foe in this same way?

When Beowulf was dealing with Unferth. When Unferth was angered by the death of Grendel and is reacting negatively to the death Beowulf tells his men to not be angry with Unferth for maybe to him Grendel was beautiful.

  1. As Beowulf prepares to go against the firedrake, what does he bring with him?

a. 12 soldiers

b. 12 bee hives

c. A large glove

d. His armor

e. A newly cut, six foot stake

  1. What story inspires Beowulf as he prepares and climbs the mountain? Why?

The story of Sigemund and Fitela because it is comparable to the situation he is currently involved with. He uses this story to help develop a plan to defeat the firedrake.
Chapter Sixteen: Bees

  1. How does Beowulf distract the firedrake?

He raises his voice to taunt the firedrake.
What does Wiglaf do when the firedrake is distracted?

He throws the stake into the mouth of the firedrake to keep it open. He then throws the glove with the queen bee inside.

  1. Explain the strategy involving the glove. Why does Wiglaf throw the glove in the firedrake’s mouth? What’s Beowulf’s plan?

To put the beehive with the queen bee in the glove and through it into the firedrake’s mouth. After the glove is thrown, Beowulf releases the bees from the other hives. The plan is for the bees to follow their queen and sting the inside of the firedrake.

  1. How are the bees symbolic of Beowulf and his men?

The men follow their leader just as the bees follow their queen

  1. What ultimately happens to the firedrake?

He ultimately dies from the attack of the bees.

  1. What ultimately happens to Beowulf?

He dies of old age.

  1. Why does Beowulf think his people will need time to understand his last battle?

Because they would not understand the method he used to win the battle. They were used to his physical strength when he was in battle and they would not understand the new methods that he used to win against the firedrake. He also thought that his new methods were not as fair and he had always been known for his fairness in battles.

  1. How is Beowulf honored after his death? How does Wiglaf explain what happened to Beowulf in that final battle?

He is buried with white stones on his grave as a representation of the love and respect of his people.

Wiglaf simply says, “Beowulf was Beowulf.”


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