This paper will endeavor to examine archetypal representations of the female in Beowulf as evidenced through both Grendel’s mother and Wealtheow. Traditional scholarship holds that Grendel’s mother is a monstrous female—either a “swamp hag” or some other form of hideous beast. However, examination of the work of contemporary scholars such as Christine Alfano, as well as a close reading of the original Old English text reveal that Grendel’s mother is not portrayed in monstrous terms whatsoever. While she is depicted as a warrior and a mother bent on revenge, she is not portrayed as a beast. Converse to this active female, lies the passivity of Wealtheow, who is commonly accepted as the archetypal Anglo-Saxon wife, a producer of male heirs and a quiet confident of the aged-warrior king, Hrothgar. It is my notion that, rather than representing a dichotomy
In the epic poem Beowulf, the protagonist, Beowulf, faces three “monsters” at different times in his life. The poem begins with Grendel, a monster who attacks only in the dark of night, tormenting the kingdom of Hrothgar. The last two sections of the epic detail the conquering by Beowulf of Grendel’s mother and the dragon. The battle between the monsters and Beowulf represent the theme of good versus evil in the poem, as well as the fusion of pagan and Christian ideals in the changing Germanic society. Grendel’s mother’s actions directly juxtapose the role of a woman in this time period, and the greediness of the dragon with his treasure contrasts with the virtues of what would be considered a good king.
Focusing the reader’s attention on the great epic poem Beowulf, an unknown author, introduces the image of the tremendous Anglos-Saxon epic hero,Beowulf. Attributed with the 7 main characteristics that make him competent to fit in such category, for the purpose of bringing to their literature a mythical figure, destroying supernatural foes, with the craving of justice and honor for his own culture. Noble birthed, capable of deeds of great strength and courage, a great warrior, Beowulf, travels over a vast setting, being recognized as a hero, keeping his humility, in a story where this incredible character confronts every supernatural adversary, to defend his kingdom.
The epic poem “Beowulf”, translated by Burton Raffel, focuses on a hero by the name of Beowulf who goes on a quest to rescue King Hrothgar and his people from an egregious monster by the name of Grendel. This Anglo-Saxon tale gives insight into the values and beliefs of the people from whom the story originated. Their war-centered ideology and views on loyalty and courage were the principles that the Anglo-Saxon culture was founded upon. While warfare was a focal point in their lifestyle, it was far from a savage, barbaric state of fighting. Honor and prestige were bestowed upon those who died during battle and selflessness for fellow warriors was a fundamental belief. Boasting and self-possession were another common custom of the Anglo-Saxons. (“Anglo-Saxon Warfare Group”). Beowulf represents a quintessential Anglo-Saxon hero through his confident poise, his willingness for self-sacrifice, and his tenacity through near-impossible odds.
“Beowulf” is an epic poem that happened to be set in Scandinavia even though it was written in England. This medieval poem consists of 3,182 lines, it is even said from archaeological discoveries that this story, is oldest surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscript (also considered one of the most important) may be true. Beowulf, the protagonist in the story is known as the bravest and the strongest warrior. In his time, only to later be named as a kind, gentle and generous king. For instance: “Crying that no better king had ever / Lived, no prince so mild, no man / So open to his people, so deserving of praise” (lines 895-897). Though seen as a great warrior, and perhaps even a great king(which he may be) does it actually make Beowulf a hero?
In the poem Beowulf, we see the Anglo-Saxon hero. It is an epic of a hero who embodies the honor of the Anglo-Saxon culture and tradition. The poem in itself is an elegant script of Anglo-Saxon times. Composed in 8th or 9th century the epic was passed down from generation to generation orally and has no known author. In the Anglo-Saxon culture a hero was a warrior. Beowulf depicts the adventures of a remarkably brave, larger-than-life hero who demonstrates almost superhuman abilities in battling monstrous opponents. Through Beowulf’s strength, bravery, and, loyalty he exemplifies the archetype of a perfect hero.
The epic poem Beowulf is a classic tale of good versus evil. Good, as shown in the story, is any action that fights evil and defends the community and the people of it. The evil intent of Grendel, the story’s antagonist and cannibalistic murderer, who is depicted as a “fiend out of hell” (99), is strongly countered by the heroic actions of the stories main protagonist, Beowulf. The noble King Hrothgar is a role model for young Beowulf at the beginning of the epic, displaying acts of charity and wisdom throughout his life. As he ages, Beowulf defends his people with the same intent as the former king and displays the same heroism that is apparent in the United States military. Heorot, a dining hall that provides Hrothgar’s people place
Beowulf is an archetypal character within a legendary piece of text. He embodies the conglomerate of many Anglo Saxon values expressed throughout his heroic journey. Contrived by the mighty Northern Anglo Saxons, Beowulf is the manifestation of the Anglo Saxon ideals. This work of art helps us identify and analyze Beowulf’s ideals in a way that lets us deduce the values of the Anglo Saxon society. Examination of this poem lets us familiarize ourselves about a society obsessed with religion, vengeance and war-lust beings. They idolized the warrior code, an abundance of warrior like traits that portrayed you as noble as can be, a fundamental aspect of life for the Anglo Saxons. So let us leap into the fabric of time and take a peek into the Anglo Saxon civilization.
First of all, despite the fact that men are highly emphasized in Beowulf, women are highly absent in the story. Even within the first couple of sentences, the style and wording create an atmosphere in which
In Beowulf, Grendel’s mother a monster, who is given the qualities of a women and represents women who are not submissive to their husbands. “Grendel’s mother, monstrous hell bride, brooded on her wrongs.”(Beowulf, page 56, lines 58, 59). In this quote Grendel’s mother is described as “monstrous” or in other words evil. She is portrayed as a crazy monster who has no control over her own actions. Since she does not have a man to control her she is portrayed as ruthless and wild. She is given a bad image because she does meet the standard society put for her; she does not have a husband. According to the article “The Social Centrality
There have been epic stories about saints and fearless pioneers who bring down shrewdness and convey peace to the general population in which they reside, Beowulf follows this traditional concept.The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is the most essential work of Old English writing. The epic recounts the account of a saint, a sovereign named Beowulf, who frees the Danes of the beast Grendel and recounts his brave demonstrations battling Grendel 's mom. All through the epic, the Anglo-Saxon story teller utilizes numerous components to construct profundity to the characters. Only a couple of the essential character components in Beowulf are Wealth and Honor, Biblical, and Man versus Wild topics.
In the article, Beowulf’s Androgynous Heroism, The author tells us that Beowulf is one of the “most memorable in his capacity as the masculine warrior and king.” (Robert Morrey, Beowulf’s Androgynous Heroism, University of Illinois Press) Even though he had no feminine companion beside him, he still fulfilled his roles, as he should have. Beowulf was authentically strong and unquestionably capable of standing up, even when nobody else could. He was able to stand up and arrest control when need be. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, he was struggling to be the best he could be until Enkidu died, his best friend. When he died, Gilgamesh started changing for the superior. Just as the article says, Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Heroic Life, “The most a man
The concept of a hero is prevalent through all generations because it presents a template for ethics and behavior. Beowulf is a pivotal epic told by poets throughout early european society and mirrors the manly nature of their ideal hero. The patriarchal values of the Anglo-Saxons are displayed through the epic Beowulf. The characters’ loyalty to their leaders as well as their conventional sense of masculinity indicate that the values of a society determine the values of an individual.
In the poem Beowulf, there is a contrast between good and evil. This distinction is presented through the monsters Grendel and his mother, in parallel to the hero Beowulf. The themes of evil and monstrosity are therefore used in the story, as a way to create the notion of Grendel and his mother as monsters. Beowulf therefore appears as a character representing good. Although Beowulf shows traits of abnormal power, like Grendel and his mother, his motifs are interpreted differently.
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.