Beowulf Gender Roles

Powerful Essays
Role of Women in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
While identifying the heroic components of male characters in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is easily achieved, the place of women within these two contexts portrays significant variations. The difference in time seems to have influenced the manifestation of the female role, with the latter text making these characters more central to the plot than manifested in Beowulf. Despite the apparent differences, it is sufficient to note that the role of women remains consistently inferior to that of men in both texts with their positions being defined subject to the capacities and desires of men.
Beowulf seems to portray women as marginalized creatures. Understanding the multiple
…show more content…
Modthryth, in spite of her isolation, is already shown to be fierce and capable of imparting physical harm on men. Grendel’s mother also seems to weave the strings of his actions as an antagonist. Wealhtheow, the Queen of Danes, is wise and bears the capacity to impact peace among the warriors. In her first appearance in Beowulf, Wealhtheow appears “Adorned in her gold, she graciously handed the cup first to Hrothgar, their homeland 's guardian, urging him to drink deep and enjoy it because he was dear to them” (Beowulf 614-618). The gestures of the queen have the capacity to not only acknowledge the nature of the warriors and their ranks, but also to extend the peace among them in a manner the men may have been unable to state vocally. This role, according to Twibell (6), while seemingly passive, is significant to the development of the battle from the point onwards and the declaration of the king to end the war soon. The same display of power manifests when Hygd offers Beowulf the throne, lacking faith in the capacity of her son to take on the role and its requirements for defense (Beowulf 2369-2371).
The most significant role a female holds in Beowulf is that of a “peace weaver” by which women are married off to an enemy, to end feuding and create peace amongst tribes. Wealhtheow notably held this role, she married a foe to her people, in order to generate peace between two
…show more content…
There are indications that women are only marginal elements in the plot of both tales, but at the same time some of the women play central roles in the development of the stories. Notably, however, women in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight have instances of displays of power (Sir Gawain). At the same time, they have been continuously presented as the sources and causes of evil within their societies. Evidently, the passage of time between the texts did little to diminish the perception of women solely on their physical appearance. While the women are instrumental components to advancing events, their contribution is barely positive and even when it is, it remains largely imperceptible except through great
Get Access