"Beowulf" and the role of Woman.

Essay by kayt06High School, 12th gradeA, January 2006

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"Beowulf" is not just an epic tale of battles and kings; it offers an insight to the Anglo Saxon customs, one of these being the customs of women. Many parts in the story lead us to believe that woman were viewed as nothing more than servants, whereas others make us believe that woman played a very important role in society. The two characters that play the most important role in this topic would be Wealtheow and Grendel's mother. Wealtheow represents a typical Anglo Saxon woman, serving drinks in the meadhall, greeting guests, and being the over-all peacekeeper. Grendel's mother on the other hand is a strong competitive monster. These two hold up the views of women by praising Wealtheow for serving, and condemning Grendel's mother for fighting.

The author creates Wealtheow to embody the role of a traditional Anglo Saxon woman, and he presents this role as the only appropriate one for Wealtheow to fulfill.

She serves as a peacekeeper in the Heorot meadhall. When she is first introduced in the story, she immediately falls into the role of the peacekeeper and waitress of the warriors, as shown in the quote, "Wealtheow came forth, Hrothgar's queen, mindful customs, gold-adorned, greeted the men in the hall; and the noble woman offered the cup first to the keeper of the land of the East-Danes, bade him be glad at the beer-drinking, beloved of the people." (35) The author also makes it a point to make the woman sound weaker than the men by saying "Sure of speech she greeted the men of the Geats, thanked God that her wish was fulfilled, that she might trust in some man for help against deadly deeds." (35) He also shows that she is a weaker gender by taking her place behind the...