Homosociality In Beowulf

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In the world of Old English poetry, children are rarely seen, the lower-classes are rarely mentioned and the women are marginalised. This world belongs to the elite male warrior; a brotherhood who live and die by the heroic code. There seems to be little room for women in this world yet, when they appear, some, actively erode the boundaries between men and women, while others uphold the structures that cause divide.
The world of Beowulf is one of male dominion over the homosocial divide, for the benefit of men, the dominant gender.
As the Danish Queen, Wealhtheow is the highest ranked woman in Beowulf. As pointed out in A Cambridge Guide to Gender History, “the elite wives, daughters and sisters found scope within which they
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Attempting to ensure her sons succeed her husband is merely continuing patriarchal rule where women will still be subordinate. There is no mention of her forestalling her daughter to be given in marriage to Heardred, she will be fitted to the role of peace-weaver. Peaceweavers given in marriage to rival tribes in order to secure peace through blood ties of the children they will bear. Sedgwick points out that this “male traffic in women” helps solidify male bonds, another that supportive structure of hegemonic masculinity.
Hildeburh is another such peaceweaver, told in the lay of the Finns, a Danish princess whose marriage to Finn was to foster peace between the Danes and the Jutes. Though we never hear her voice, the tragedy is given almost entirely from her perspective. Hildeburh is a silent, standby in a tragedy where her son, brother and husband are killed. Hildeburh’s role of peaceweaver failed. The poet lays no blame on her calling her QUOTE HERE but the blood ties that
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Grendel’s Mother is not named yet her very existence is independent of the male social code. As a female monster that exists on the boundaries of the (male) civilised world she can cross the boundaries, into Heorot, just as her son could. Grendel’s Mother “rage in her grief” takes on the masculine role of vengeance and uses violence, not words of diplomacy, in seeking revenge. She even has her own private space, a mere with “blood on the water” with “serpents and wild beasts”, within. This is a feminine and bloody space that speaks of the mysteries of the female body, the monsters: the fear men have of what lurks within. When Grendel’s Mother battles with Beowulf, she attempts to penetrate him with her claws; she pinions him to the ground, the female mounting the male, an inversion of male sexual violence towards women. There is no mention of Grendel’s father, though she is called a descendent of Cain, could she be the self-propagating primordial mother, another anathema to the phallic centric world of Beowulf and one which must be contained for the male order to
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