Role Woman In Beowulf


The mislaid portion that has been principally disregarded, perhaps more through intellectual neglect than through physical damage, is the place of womenfolk within the poem. The trope of the female gallant in Anglo-Saxon literature has converted even rarer than the document that contained its tradition.

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The heroic rhyme of this period is too often definite as a genre dealing wholly with the intrigues of one or two incredibly heroic male characters. The adoration of the male, infrequently at the expenditure of the female, is a crucial element in this genre of poetry. Nonetheless, women did be existent in the war band culture, and they did grip power.

Even more fascinatingly, the power that they held throughout the time of Beowulf was going through a change due to the outline above of Christianity. These evolutions need to be tinted, to show that this womankind (particularly the characters of Wealhtheow, Grendel’s Mother, Hygd, and Modthryth) are not merely static figures from one instant in time, but animated characters that reflect both Pagan and Christian influences.

In short, as the tropes of literary womenfolk throughout this period show, there is room within the male heroic poetry for a female heroic linguistic, a language that is maybe only obvious to women, but that exists, however. The two genres, one recognized and one largely unrecognized are not equally exclusive of one another.

CITATION Var16 \l 1033 (Varvel) Women as Peace-weavers and goader in Beowulf’s Courts.

This examines the vital roles of women in the societies labeled in Beowulf, paying specific attention to the purpose as peace-weavers and goaders. The dual connotation implies that women are naturally peaceful and meant to bring it to their home. Gillian Overing had said “The peace-weaving role also unlocks up to a more complex perspective on weaving as différance. The play of absence and attendance image in these supposedly active weavers of line and connections between tribes and between stories inside the text, whose actual presence is shadowy, barely discernible.”

Regardless of the idea women are meant to be submissive and passive, the women of Beowulf are strong, self-assured, and emphatic. Hrothgar’s wife Wealtheow, a historical figure named Hildeburh, Beowulf’s liege Hygelac’s wife Hygd, and Modthyrtho are each influenced of strong traits that shine forth in diverse ways. “..Enacting the ties of kinship, weaving the web of peace in Beowulf, is a task of infinite regression, a never-ending process that accurately reflects Derrida’s concept of difference in that it involves the dual attributes of deferral and absence of resolution, and the attendant presence of a multitude of possibilities, a state of infinite potential.

Taking the side of possibility and preferring, as I have outlined in the Introduction, to see this open-ended; they extend and revalue the multi-directionality of the web. CITATION Cha12 \l 1033 (Phipps)”His famous queen [Wealhtheow], peace-weaver of nations, walked through the hall, encouraged the striplings; time and again before she was seated, she gave gold bracelets” (Beowulf lines 2016-2019). Wealhtheow, Hrothgar’s queen, exemplifies the roles predictable of literary Anglo-Saxon noblewomen. She is one who generates bonds of peace.

This role of building peace characteristically fell to women who remained traded between warring groups, such as clans, for intermarriage. In her capability of the wife as a within an opponent camp, she and her children were destined to bring an end to blood feud and uphold friendly relations between factions. Wealhtheow’s inspiration for her husband’s retainers signifies another essential portion of a typically female role.

Womankind was not directly intricate in the violent political scuffling of their men; in fact, they were fundamentally omitted from the exercise of ferocity. Somewhat, women were permitted or indeed, expected to inspire acts of violence from their masculine complements at times when socially-appropriate exploit has not taken. The aptitude to bring shame and reassurance on the men in her society gave a lady some limited power, but bans against actions of violence would restrict her capability to partake in many aspects of social and party-political life.

Nevertheless, Wealhtheow does not exam these restrictions. Instead, she takes taking characteristically feminine actions, such as ritualistically helping mead to her husband’s men in a mode symbolic of their social standing, and she then transitory this traditional action down to her offspring Freawaru. Wealhtheow upholds her locus as king’s wife estimably by keeping to her female role, and for doing so, she is acclaimed as excellent in virtues (line 623). She is, in numerous ways, a typical example of proper Anglo-Saxon femininity.

Instances rise when women act different from the feminine standards, in specific when they actively contribute to acts of ferocity. These breaks of typically female conduct can prime to a variety of consequences. Judith, who is a character, is the essential character of an Anglo-Saxon poem portraying a Hebrew noblewoman who momentarily sets aside her feminine locus in favor of more manly action.

With the assistance of her handmaiden, Judith goes in the camp of the Assyrians besieging her city and executes the enemy general, Holofernes. She then goes back to her city, the head of her foe in tow, and uses her ghastly trophy as an excellent of hope underneath which she assemblies her people’s militia for a final blow touching their besiegers. Though she disobeys ideal prospects for females, in the Anglo-Saxon version, Judith is praised for her movements and pleased with a share of the rewards. CITATION Hon16 \l 1033 (Lundt)Gillian R. Overing inscribes that “the women in Beowulf, whether dishonest fiends or pedigreed peace weaving queens, are all bordering, excluded figures.”

Rendering to her, “women have not at all place in the death-centered, manly economy of Beowulf; they have no space to inhabit, to speak from, they obligation be repeatedly translated by and into the male economy.” Some scholars classify women in Beowulf as deserted fatalities of the society they live. They point out that, they reliant on men, being mere implements of the kings and extensions of their husbands. Afterward, all their roles are said to be fated to disappointment or futile.

The character of Grendel’s mother, as sound, has assimilated a new implication. In the overall arrangement of the poem, she is chiefly another monster for the champion to fight. Under the inspiration of the feminist philosophies, however, she has been examined as an example of a strong and independent woman or as a feminine archetype on the legendary level. CITATION Pro07 \l 1033 (Procházková)The debate of Grendel’s mother characteristically focuses on her physical strength, apparently made likely only by her feminization.

+She demonstrations “insinuations of gender disobedience and uncertainty” when she, instead of merely inconsolable the loss of her son, steps up in the typically-masculine character to take revenge. Critics may also indicate to focus on the fact that Grendel’s mother has to contest with a knife or a sword, both phallic ciphers suggesting at the ascendency of the male. Connecting this power to the mannish implies that women may be not-weak as long as they are not women.

Though to choose only these instances is to exclude written evidence of true forte and force recognized with women. First, it is significant to note that, despite this existence her first battle, Grendel’s mother is a stronger adversary than her son was, Beowulf, who so easily overpowered Grendel with his bare hands, when confronted with the friend’s mother “…felt intimidated,/ the strongest of soldiers stumbled and fell”.

Also noteworthy is that Beowulf advanced to the battle with Grendel’s mother garbed in chainmail and armed with weapons, while he had met Grendel unprotected and in close combat. Beowulf forestalls the approaching struggle and does not reflect the femaleness of his enemy as a suggestion of an easy conquest. Grendel’s mother, the warrior-woman, then prospers in weakening the great fighter Beowulf.

He had been brave enough to face Grande, but against Grendel’s mother, Beowulf’s maleness and weaponry are inadequate. Had he not made use of the blade found in the woman’s gunroom, the text clues readers to trust that Beowulf would have fallen in defeat? This may observe as an implicit assessment on the idea that females were well-thought-out to be weak and incapable, or that they necessity put on manliness to regarde as equals.

Wealhtheow makes two speeches, first to the king then to Beowulf. Hrothgar had made strong his purpose to adopt Beowulf as heir to the Danish kingdom. The monarch, however, while heartening the kindness and coalition between the Danes and the Geats, counsels the king to ‘…bequeath/ kingdom and nation to your kith and kin’. It is as Hrothgar is acting rashly, expressively behavior usually related to women and that it is the queen who interferes to stop the discharge of her sons as heirs.

As in the fight between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, the man has been powerless, yet deprived of the masculinization of their female complements. Through the entire epic Wealhtheow is held in the uppermost respect, referred to as queenly and dignified, with no sign that anyone opinions her as whatever less than a perfect woman and a perfect entertainer. Later at the end of her cheers and praise for Beowulf, the queen again declares herself by saying that “…the ranks do as I bid’. In each circumstance, the poet gives us no reason to have faith in that her stresses will go unheard”. CITATION Ste151 \l 1033 (Singh)


  • Lundt, Honor. “Female Warriors: Judith, Grendel’s Mother, and Gender in Anglo-Saxon England.” Trace: Tennessee Research and Creative (2016): 1-4.
  • Phipps, Charles. “A Feminist Critique of Beowulf: Women as Peace-Weavers and Goaders in Beowulf ‘s Courts.” Marshall Digital Scholar (2012): 1-3.
  • Procházková, Petra. “Female Characters in Beowulf.” literature essay wordpress (2007): 2-6.
    Singh, Stephanie. “The Importance of Women in Anglo-Saxon Society as Portrayed through Literature.” The Compass (2015): 1-7.
  • Varvel, Elizabeth. “Medieval and Renaissance Studies at The W.” (2016): 6-8. document.

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