Beowulf, one of the most translated and reproduced epics of all time, is literature that concerns characters. While Beowulf himself is the obvious hero of this Anglo-Saxon epic, many companions and fellow travelers are mentioned throughout the text. Some of these secondary characters are almost as noble and courageous as Beowulf himself, while others are lowly cowards. Be what they may, all are captured in this timeless tale of adventure. Women, however, are rarely mentioned in Beowulf. This is because of the context of an Anglo-Saxon society with rigid beliefs and customs. Even though there is very little mention of women in Beowulf (and any other document of the time period), it is possible to gain an understanding of the position of women in an Anglo-Saxon society.
Both Wealhtheow, Hrothgar's queen, and Hygd, Hygelac's queen, apparently
held power in their courts. Wealhtheow's actions in rewarding Beowulf after
his battles show the queen's role and position as hostess. She awards him
"two arm ornaments, mail, rings" and a be...
... middle of paper ...
...men in that society, though it may have little tangible
impact on today's life, seems to imply that it is not entirely true that the
Anglo-Saxons restricted the freedom of women in favor of a purely
male-oriented, hero-worshiping society.
Beowulf and Other Old English Poems. Trans. Constance B. Hieatt. New York; Odyssey Press, 1967.
Gies, Frances and Joseph. Marriage and Family in the Middle Ages. New York; Harper and Row, 1987.
Page, R.I. Life in Anglo-Saxon England. New York; G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1970.
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