The Tolkien Reader Discussion Questions: The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth
January 13, 2012
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I am rereading The Tolkien Reader and will be posting discussion questions each Friday until I work my way through it. Next week I will post discussion questions for Tolkien’s famous essay On Fairy-Stories. Today’s reading is The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth.
1) According to the fragment of the poem now called The Battle of Maldon, what were the last words of Beorhtwold, Beorhtnoth’s old retainer? What are their significance?
2) Why does Beorhtwold’s station make the principle he states more pure, clear, and profound? How can this have influenced Tolkien’s use of hobbits as heroic characters in The Lord of the Rings?
3) In Tolkien’s opinion, what other line is key to understanding the full force of the poem? How does this influence the “northern heroic ideal” and how does it impact the depiction of heroism in his works?
4) Compare and contrast Beorhtnoth’s death with the death of Thorin.
5) How did Theoden embody the “northern heroic ideal”?