Grendel's Mother Character Analysis

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The Devil in Her Eyes: Oppression, Allowable Femininity, and Good Versus Evil in Beowulf Beowulf, the lauded Anglo-Saxon epic poem of unknown authorship, contains deeply embedded themes of Good versus Evil, especially between the female characters. Queen Wealtheow and Grendel’s Mother have detailed descriptions based on their contrasting physical appearances, allowing the author to subject them to reduction to body. Both characters, while vastly different in actions and motivators, are strong, passionate women who attempt to protect their progeny at all cost. However, both fall victim to instrumentality as the author assigns honor to Queen Wealtheow’s actions, and forces Grendel’s Mother into a base and despicable role. Queen Wealtheow is a shining example of acceptable femininity as defined by the patriarchy, yet even she is not immune to being silenced by the author for his own purposes. Grendel’s Mother, of course, remains nearly…show more content…
This denial of autonomy removes the ability for the women to have fully developed characters for the reader to have any meaningful connection to either the Queen or the wretched Mother. Grendel’s Mother has no speech, relying instead on crudely pantomimed displays of anger, loss, and grief. This inability to do anything other than lash out at the warriors leads to more bloodshed and ultimately, her demise. Francis Leneghan discusses author John M. Hill’s contention that this generates “social tension” within the narrative “pulse” as the story unfolds (112). This animalistic nature foisted upon the grieving Mother, coupled with her complete inability to be heard forces her into a subjugated position, iterating her as a base creature, forcing the reader to feel separate and disconnected from her without insight to her thoughts or feelings, other than her
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