Wealhtheow's Role In Beowulf

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While reading Beowulf, one might think that Wealhtheow’s role in Beowulf is insignificant, or that she is merely an extension of Hrothgar, the Danish king. But after studying her character, the queen of the Danes clearly holds a far more powerful role than at a first glance. Her speeches are brief, but full of meaning and authority, and her astute counsel is often relied upon by Hrothgar. While she plays only a small role in Beowulf, Wealhtheow demonstrates that women played an integral part in medieval culture. Wealhtheow’s wisdom and respect is apparent in her role as the cup-bearer. When Beowulf first dines at Heorot, she brings the mead-cup to Hrothgar first, to show he holds the highest position in the hall. She then passes the cup to the knights and nobles of the Danes. …show more content…

Wealhtheow’s response to Hrothgar indicates that there is land, and possibly the position of the future king, at stake in Beowulf’s adoption. Thus she urges Hrothgar to entrust the kingdom to Hrothulf, his nephew, rather than Beowulf. Since it is in her best interest to keep the land of the Danes in good hands, and she has known Beowulf for only a short time period, it is wiser, therefore, to pass the rule of the kingdom to Hrothgar’s nephew, whom she believes will do what is expected, will rule wisely, and treat her and Hrothgar’s sons fairly. While she shows her power multiple times in different ways, Wealhtheow’s defining moment is her address to Beowulf and the rest of the court: ...Treat my sons with tender care, be strong and kind. Here each comrade is true to the other, loyal to lower, loving in spirit. The thanes have one purpose, the people are

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