Role Of Women In Beowulf

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A Woman’s Worth: The Role of Women in Beowulf Throughout time and across many cultures, women have had the lowest status in society. In a patriarchal world, women have consistently been viewed as weaker and inferior to men. As a result, it is no surprise that men have found themselves in places of power and admiration. However, this does not mean that society completely neglects the impact of women; in Greek lore, women take on passive yet important roles, weaving the destinies and doom of many men and earning themselves a reputation as banes of manipulation and deception. Negative as that portrayal may seem, other societies have defined the roles of their women differently. Anglo-Saxons also flaunted the heroics of their men, as exemplified…show more content…
Men high in power, such as the king, represent their fortune and power through the adornment of women. The lady with arguably the most lavish description in Beowulf is Wealhtheow, who is described as “regal and arrayed with gold” (Beowulf 641). In another description, the other defining trait about her was “her gold crown” (Beowulf 1162). Repeatedly, the gold is used to exemplify the beauty of Wealhtheow; however, it is not really her own gold. Instead, it comes from the king, the provider of gold for everyone in the community. Making all her appearances aside the king, she is a representation of the king’s riches and the abundance of his wealth; anyone visiting the mead-hall would be under impression that King Hrothgar is a wealthy man with a well off community. Similarly, Beowulf’s importance as a leader comes into perspective with the lady mourning at his funeral. As Beowulf’s funeral pyre burned, “A Geat woman too sang out in grief; / …of her worst fears, a wild litany
/ of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
/ enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,
/ slavery and abasement” (Beowulf 3150-3155). As the messenger delivering the message of Beowulf death relayed, surrounding tribes were now liable to attack the Geats. By crying about her fears of the war and raids, the Geat woman highlights the importance that Beowulf had for the community: he was Geats’ sole protector and the…show more content…
At times, women can take action to either preserve the reputation or emphasize the importance of some well-regarded man. In other situations, it is the actions of a man towards a woman that helps preserve or increase the influence that he has. Even symbolically, women have importance in defining the standing of man, as they highlight what made a man of value to the community. Neither the Greek nor Anglo-Saxon depictions of women are too positive; nevertheless, they are accurate depictions of the times these societies lived in and of a time when women were considered to be inferior to
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