The Struggle For Status

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate December 2001

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Johnson 1 The Struggle for Status Over the ages the struggle by women to achieve higher status within their societies has been a widely discussed topic. In more recent times, women have fought for voting rights and equal employment opportunities. Even today women continue in an attempt to break down the glass ceiling, which prevents them from earning the same wages as men who are in equal positions. Interestingly enough, the dilemma of women being treated as lesser human beings is not only common to our times. It can be concluded from the literary works, "Beowulf"� and Sophocles' Oedipus the King, that the women of the Ancient World and the Middle Ages were of very little value to their society based on the manner in which the authors identify women, the ways in which male characters treat women characters, and the roles the women play in their society.

The ways is which the authors of these two works identify and refer to women characters are a clear depiction of the lesser value of women in the Ancient World and the Middle Ages.

As "Beowulf"� begins, the author introduces us to the legendary warrior king of the Danes, Shield Sheafson. The lineage of this renowned ring-giver travels down through his son Beow who fathers four children. The author readily introduces us to Beow's three sons, Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga, whereas his daughter remains unnamed.

The simple fact that the author fails to give us the name of Beow's daughter speaks volumes about the perception of the female race. It seems to suggest that women Johnson 2 were of such little value that they did not deserve to be referred to by their names. However, the author of "Beowulf"� does refer to Beow's daughter as being the queen of Onela, and...