The Women Of Beowulf

An epic tale of heroes and monsters, the storyline of Beowulf is filled up with excitement and excursion, However Beowulfs importance goes significantly beyond that of just a great literary piece. It also offers many insights in to the world of the seventh-century Anglo-Saxon culture. One of the things that is very common in Beowulf is how women are portrayed and likely to act in this culture. Anglo-Saxon women that are peaceful and unassertive are believed to be pursuing their jobs in contemporary society, by greeting guests and providing mead to the men in the mead hall. One particular example of the Anglo-Saxon women following this role is Welthow, the queen of the Danes. Women are also portrayed on the contrary end of the spectrum; a perfect example of this might be Grendel's mom. She is a solid and fierce monster whom Beowulf must wipe out. By reading about these two ladies in Beowulf, we can understand the different ways women are portrayed in this world. Throughout the storyline of Beowulf, the writer subtly supports the traditional Anglo-Saxon views of women by praising the actions of Welthow, condemning Grendel's mother, and showing the need to stop feminine forces like Wyrd; however, the author also contradicts these views on a few uncommon events by sympathizing with Grendel's mom, allowing Welthow to assert herself to get her family.

In the storyline of Beowulf, Welthow is by way the the one that one would think of when they picture an average Anglo-Saxon ladies in these times. The occasion that best shows this is after they all go back to Hrothgar. "Then Welthow, Hrothgar's gold-ringed queen, greeted the warriors' a noble woman who realized what was right, she raised a flowing cup to Hrothgar first, positioning it high for god, the father of the Danes to drink, wishing him enjoyment in the feast. She thanked god for responding to her prayers, for allowing her hands the happy responsibility of offering mead to the hero's. " (Raffel 28-29) This passage gives a specific example of what is expected of women in these times. Even on into later years, Women were still expected and urged to serve beverages. "The better half grew the grapes, gathered the grapes, made the wine, and sold the wine"(Collins 26). Despite the fact that she is operating as an average Anglo-Saxon woman she is still a queen. That is visible in her role from that of a normal Anglo-Saxon female to a serenity manufacturer when she provides toast in the meadhall "Celebrate his courage, rejoice and be nice while a kingdom sits in your palm, a people and electric power that death will steal. I know your nephew's kindness; I understand hell replay in kind the goodness you have shown him. " (Raffel 51-52) With everyone gathered for the toast, Hrothulf could have second thoughts about betraying his family and taking the throne. In another similar way, in the poem Les Voeux de Paon, a family is quarreling and by using a young girl peacemaker, they deposit their disagreements, "Elyses, a young woman, would go to each knight requesting those to vow to discharge their obligations to arms"(Murphy 6) She is constantly on the gently persuade each of them until they all give in to setting up their weapons. However, on the other end of the spectrum we've Grendel's mother.

Grendel's mother defies the traditional role of any Anglo-Saxon woman when you are powerful and competitive. The primary difference between Welthow and Grendel's mother is the fact Welthow's influence is a lot more refined and nonviolent than that of Grendel's mom. Being truly a monster, Grendel's mom possesses "great warrior-strength" (Raffel 57). Grendel's mom attacks Herot. " She'd used Hrothgar's closest friend, The person he most adored of most men on earth", "The wise old kind, trembled in anger and grief, his dearest good friend and adviser dead" (Raffel 57). The next morning, Beowulf employs her tracks back to her underwater lair. Beowulf switches into her underwater lair and they combat. However Beowulf did not consider the great strength she would have. In order to defeat Grendel, Beowulf grabs one of is own forearms and rips off; on the other palm, Grendel's mother fights with Beowulf and almost defeats him. Beowulf only is victorious the battle because of divine involvement, "The ruler of the world, exhibited me, hanging shining and beautiful on a wall membrane, a mighty old sword" (Raffel 71) When later recounting his battle with Grendel's mom, he says she fought with such power that would surpass any man.

Despite Beowulf being the hero and Grendel's mom being portrayed as a monster, he creates sympathy for Grendel's mom by receiving her purpose for vengeance and suggesting a close mother-son relationship. When Grendel's mother is first unveiled, she actually is depicted as a mother mourning her son and out for vengeance. It shows some reason for her attack rather than just being evil. The author is constantly on the build sympathy for Grendel's mom by delivering her as using a clear emotional relationship with her kid. After her invasion on Herot, Grendel's mother needs the arm of her slain child. Further proof the strong mental attachment between the two is the fact that Beowulf discovers Grendel's dead body in his mother's underwater lair. The very last we notice of Grendel, he is fleeing from Herot with a mortal wound. You can only assume that Grendel's mom was mourning the fatality of her child and unable to let him go.

The continued reinforcement of appropriate female roles by presenting two different and opposing supernatural makes that strongly impact the plot of Beowulf: a masculine God and a womanly Wyrd, suggesting that feminine makes require suppression. Wyrd is a mystical force that serves as a fate, taking the heroes of Beowulf ever before closer to agony and fatality; however, God helps to protect Beowulf and helps him in fight. Wyrd works to bring disorder and doom to Beowulf, equally as Grendel's mother wages warfare on Hrothgar and his kingdom. Beowulf is able to kill Grendel's mom, ending her affect, however he is unable to do anything about the Wyrd except to turn to God for help.

The storyline of Beowulf helps paint a picture of what it must have been prefer to be an Anglo-Saxon woman in those times. The girl who followed the original roles are believed good and the ones who don't are cast out as monsters.

Raffel, Burton. Beowulf. 2nd ed. London: Signet Vintage, 2008. Print.

Collins, James. "French Historical Studies. " French Historical Studies. 16. 2 Print.

Murphy, Michael. "English Studies. " English Studies. 66. 2 105. Printing.

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