Theme Of Feminism In Beowulf

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The middle English poem Beowulf also defines the important ways in which the feminist heroine is part of an ancient poetic tradition in the depiction of empowered women in patriarchal society. For instance, the plot of the story revolves around Beowulf’s indoctrination into the court of King Hrothgar, since he has been chosen to destroy to the monster Grendel. However, an unusual break with patriarchal tradition finds Wealhtheow, the wife of King Hrothgar, passing the mead cup to Beowulf as part of this indoctrination. In this ceremony, the tradition of the king passing the mead cup has been disavowed due to the power of the Wealhtheow in the royal court: “Wealhtheow came in,/ Hrothgar’s queen, observing the courtesies./ Adorned in gold, she…show more content…
This poetic depiction of Wealhtheow’s influence in Hrothgar’s court allows her great freedoms, which were typically allowed only for the king: [She] then handed the cup/ first to Hrothgar, their homeland guardian,/urging him to drink deep and enjoy it/…[And] so the Helming woman went on her rounds offering the goblet to all ranks” (Heaney 43). In this instance, the moral leadership of Wealhtheow defines the feminist heroine, which have given a special right to overlook the patriarchal traditions of Hrothgar’s court. Wealhtheow is very similar to Elinor because of her special standing as a woman of honor and dignity that gives her great powers to stand outside of patriarchal traditions that often entrap and subjugate other women. Beowulf provides this instance of poetic tradition that sets the foundation for greater equality between men and women due to the intelligent heroism of Elinor, Wealhtheow, and also, the figure of Mother Mary as an example of the morally righteous Anglo-Saxon…show more content…
After Grendel has been destroyed by Beowulf, it is Wealhtheow that presents the award of a torque and armor for the victor. This is, yet again, another example of the high standing of Wealhtheow in the court of Hrothgar. Traditionally, these rewards would be given by Hrothgar, but the poetic language of the feminist heroine is presented in her announcement to Beowulf as the hero of their people: “Applause filled the hall./Then Wealhtheow pronounced in the presence of the/company: “Take delight in this torque, dear Beowulf,/wear it for luck and wear also this mail” Heaney 85). This type of feminist power in Hrothgar’s court is not unlike the power of Mother Mary over Sir Gawain in the protection he seeks from a superior female figure. During battle, Sir Gawain also relies on the inspiration of a female heroine to provide him strength in combat: “And whenever he stood in battle his mind/Was fixed above all things on the five/Joys which Mary had of Jesus/ From which all his courage came” (Raffel 69). In this context, the feminist heroine is defined in these two middle English texts, which illustrate the spiritual and courtly respect for women that inspires great men to succeed in battle. This is why Wealhtheow is a powerful feminist heroine, since eh has a superior role over Beowulf as a leader in the royal court. Certainly, these roles

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