Examples Of Grendel's Mother In Beowulf

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Nina Ortiz
Prof. Kappes
ENG 301
26 February 2018 Two Tales of a Mother
A woman, a savage, a mother, or a beast may or may not be your opinion of Grendel's mother in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf. Beowulf leaves much to the reader to imagine who she is as person and so interpretation varies. However, throughout the text, the poet seems to praise Beowulf for his heroic ventures while Grendel’s mother gets no real recognition other than distasteful descriptions. As many might perceive Grendel’s mother as monstrous and their worst nightmare, on the contrary, Grendel’s mother was as human as Beowulf and as natural as you and I.
Much like today, society connects you with whom you are related. Due to this, what your descendants have done
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“Avenger” (1257), “monstrous hell-bride” (1259), and “savage” (1504) are just some of the names the poet used. Although, she takes an eye for an eye by taking one of the “retainers in a tight hold” (1294-1295) to then fleeing and eventually killing the great warrior, Beowulf contradicts this vengeful act. Beowulf explains to Hrothgar, “Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning” (1384-1385). However, this is exactly what Grendel’s mother does. She avenges her son's death instead of indulging in mourning and somehow she is deemed as the villain instead of a warrior of her own clan. Perhaps this is mainly because she is a female in a germanic warrior culture that is a patriarchy masculine society that she cannot be viewed as a warrior but rather as an outcast and a…show more content…
While what we may be reading is not the exact terms that the original poet intended to use, we are using the translated terms to describe Grendel’s mother. In researching more extensively, in Old English, the original poet describes Grendel’s mother as “ides, aglæc-wif” (1259) which according to an Old English to Modern English Translator, “ides” means lady/woman, “aglæc” which means “trouble distress oppression misery grief torment” and “wif” which means wife. However, when translated, the translation is quite different. On the same line, in modern English, we get “monstrous hell-bride” (1259). Therefore, when analyzing the whole text to figure out who exactly is Grendel’s mother, perhaps it is impossible. Unless you can read Old English, to know what the original poet intentions were of the character, you can't possibly counterargue the claim that she is human because we are not reading what the poet wrote but what the translator
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