The Roles of Women in Beowulf Throughout the history of literature, female characters are often side characters that do not get much recognition from readers. It is a known fact that women are underestimated in Beowulf . When we look at the poem, more it is emphasized the bravery of Beowulf and how to struggle with Grendel. In my opinion, as well as male characters, women characters should be in the forefront in Beowulf. When we examine the roles of women in poetry by a closer, we can see that the women play in central roles in Anglo-Saxon society. The women that appear in Beowulf are: Wealhtheow, Hygd, Hilderburh, Freawaru, Thyrth and Grendel’s mother. There are two queens among them, Wealhtheow and …show more content…
This act of gift giving established reciprocity, an important mutual exchange between the giver and the receiver, and play an essential part in dynastic succession. At the end of the speech, her final words reflect self-assurance and confidence, and illustrate her power over people and her right to command them: “ the noble men, having drunk, will do as I ask “ (1230-31) Finally, we find the monster-like women in the poem namely Grendel’s mother. Grendel’s mother is monstrous in that she is all the opposite to peacewaver and hostesses: Grendel’s mother can be considered violent and cruel because she rather make use of weapons and her physical strength rather than using words or marriage to influence other people , just like Wealtheow . Grendel’s mother is another example of powerful woman. She’s independent, as she lives her house alone and protects it herself. She confront’s Beowulf on her own to take revenge for Grendel’s death. On the contrary, the poet is generally enthusiastic about Beowulf’s feats, but he often surrounds the events he narrates with a sense of dom. Male characters are dominant.Women only appear as a figure. However, when we look at their roles in poem, it is clear that women are important and they should be
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Grendel had being killing and terrorizing Hrothgar’s people. The news of Grendel had travel to the land of the Geats and Beowulf had come to provide assistance to Hrothgar. One day after Beowulf and Grendel’s fight, where Beowulf tears off the demons’ arm, the monster’s mother came to vengeance her son’s death. She was also defeated and killed by Beowulf, for which he received many gifts and praise by Hrothgar and his wife Wealhtheow.
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.
More Power Than A King 2 One can say that the active role women play in Beowulf is rather minimal and that they are confined to the task of playing hostess to the adventure seeking men. This, was not the case especially when one looks beyond the surface. Women throughout Beowulf play the important role of peacemaker and often give gifts and honor, both of which are very important in this culture. Without women the world Beowulf is set in would have been a maelstrom of chaos and war. Women who play the role of peacemaker usually abide by confinement .
Beowulf is an excellent piece with a lot for the readers to desire and relate to while reading. This analysis explores different escapades while examining the role of women in the literature. One thing to point out is that female characters have always received very thin attention in different pieces of literature, something that has always made many people think that their role is meager. Every piece of literature has an important message to pass across to its intended audiences. Indeed, this study seeks to demystify the male-centric mindset to promote the visibility of women in the contemporary interpretation of literary works demonstrating that women play a greater role in the literature despite the proximity given to male protagonist.
Marriage interestingly is an institution that society upholds, perhaps it refers to the human origins of Cain and therefore to the humanity of Grendel’s mother. A bride also has feminine qualities such as maternal instincts, which indicates the monster’s role as a mother. The poet does not mention the monster’s name, instead only refers to her as “Grendel’s mother” to emphasize her maternal role (Heaney 69). Grendel’s mother displays her motherly instincts when she reflects on the death of her son Grendel, “Grendel’s mother…brooded on her wrongs” done to her by society (Heaney 69). As a grieving mother, her emotions indicate a humanlike quality of having attachment to one’s family.
The Beowulf poem and the Poetic Edda A comparison between Norse and Anglo-Saxon literature There are some texts that have changed and formed our view on literary history, and two of the more notable pieces are The Beowulf poem and the Poetic Edda. The two have redefined our view on the literary past of both England and Scandinavia and have laid the foundation for what we acknowledge as literature. J.R.R Tolkien wrote in his Essay Beowulf: The monsters and the critics ”Barely all the censure, and most of the praise, that has been bestowed on The Beowulf has been due either to the belief that it was something that it was not — for example, primitive, pagan, Teutonic, an allegory (political or mythical), or most often, an epic; or to disappointment at the discovery that is was itself not something that the scholar would have liked better — for example, a heathen heroic lay, a history of Sweden, a manual of German antiquities, or a Nordic Summa Theologica.” He continues to debate for the poems importance as literature, instead of as a historical document.
Antonio Martinez Dr. Rajan English 2111: World Literature 1 Various female characters in Beowulf receive a lot of attention for their dynamic characteristics and their rounded personalities. Hygelac’s only daughter seems to be the only female character in Beowulf that has not been studied in recent years. Alaric Hall, the only person I’ve seen to write about her, wrote an article describing Hygelac’s only daughter and what she represents to the story. Hygelac is the king of the Geats and is Beowulf’s lord. Hygelac has three children, two males and only one female.
For one, the reason for which Grendel’s mother was forced to avenge her son was that he was the only other member of her clan, and there was no male figure to do the avenging. Furthermore, the premise that all men and women do not fulfill their designated role in society is false. In the case of Grendel’s mother, I believe that she successfully played her role as a maternal figure. Only when Grendel was killed, was she forced to go beyond her gender boundary and assume the the stereotypically masculine roles. As for other women in the poem, Queen Wealhtheow represented the ideal Germanic woman, who was quite successful in creating peace and playing the role of hostess.
Women are depicted as “trophy” to men and nothing more. Throughout the epic a sense of bravado and machoism is played out, giving off a man’s world feeling which women and little or no real reason to be wanted. To understand the epic and the roles in which women played, one may not have to look further than how the book has been put together. First and foremost, the book is being told through the eyes of a man (good luck ladies).
Everyone has a perspective on good and evil; the battle line between good and even runs through the heart. “Beowulf” illuminates characters that come from dark and deep backgrounds that construct their dauntless actions. In the heroic tale “Beowulf,” the author’s tones strongly demonstrates themes of loyalty, honor, and courage. Raffel’s tones remotely displays the act of loyalty within multiple characters. “Hail to these who will rise to God, drop off their dead bodies” (101).
The poem Beowulf centers on a male-dominated society with the major themes of violence and power. A majority of the main characters in the poem are men who play a key role in the advancement of its themes. The gender roles of men and women in the poem have been defined with men being allocated the roles of leaders and knights making them heroes while women are seen as peacemakers and trophies for their husbands. However, Grendel’s mother is an exception to other women in the poem. She defies the allocated roles given to women by refusing to conform to societal expectations.
Beowulf reflects the traits that conformed to their masculine norms . While sorrowful Hrothgar laments the deaths caused by Grendel’s mother, Beowulf urges him to “not grieve” and to “avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning” (1384-5). However, earlier the epic alluded to a story about a princess named Hildeburh who after losing her husband, child, and brother, was “waylaid by grief” (1081). There is a definite contrast between how men and women are expected to confront loss- according to the patriarchal values, men avenge and women weep. Therefore, Beowulf is even more of an ideal masculine hero because he adheres the the Anglo-Saxon gender roles.
Feminist literary criticism’s primary argument is that female characters have always been presented from a male’s viewpoint. According to Connell, in most literary works, female characters often play minor roles which emphasize their domestic roles, subservience and physical beauty while males are always the protagonists who are strong, heroic and dominant (qtd. in Woloshyn et al.150). This means that the women are perceived as weak and are supposed to be under the control of men. Gill and Sellers say that feminist literary criticism’s approach involves identifying with female characters in order to challenge any male centred outlook.