Essay on Medieval Women

Essay on Medieval Women

Length: 1031 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Medieval Women

The roles of women in early Anglo-Saxon culture were strictly defined. Women were viewed as possessions and served the function of the peace-weaver. In this role women were married off to warring tribes to promote peace and were to perform duties such as passing the cup from warrior to warrior during ceremonial functions. Women in Anglo-Saxon culture possessed virtually no autonomy and consequently were consistently at the mercy of their lords or husbands. The sense of isolation and desperation felt by these women is captured in the “The Wife’s Lament” as the speaker describes her inability to control her own situation. The female characters Wealhtheow, Hildeburh, and Freawaru in Beowulf also display the limited role of women as peace-weavers. The only female character with some power in Beowulf is Grendel’s mother, who retaliates for the death of her son.

The speaker of “The Wife’s Lament” is a peace-weaver who has been abandoned by her tribe. She describes how she has been separated from her husband and sent away “a friendless exile—to seek a household to shelter [her] against wretched need” (103). The exiled woman lives alone in the wilderness and reflects about how the vow between she and her husband to remain together forever has been broken. The implication is that war has likely driven the couple apart as seen in the lines, “Far and near, I must suffer the feud of my much-beloved” (103). It is clear that this woman has no control over what has happened to her and consequently is left to lament the loss of her love. Because she no longer has a husband, the speaker is without a role or place in society, and she cast out on her own.

The stories of Hildeburh and Freawaru, as...


... middle of paper ...


...time) remains ceremonial. It is interesting, and telling, that Grendel’s mother, the only woman in Beowulf who is autonomous and aggressive, is considered a monster.

Works Cited

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Seventh Edition. Volume 1. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W. W.
Norton & Company, 2000. 114-209.

Sanders,Arnie. "The Exeter Book." English 211: Beowulf to Dryden>.
Dept. of English, Goucher College. 1 Feb. 2004.

"The Wanderer." The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Seventh Edition. Volume 1. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W. W.
Norton & Company, 2000. 114-209.

"The Wife's Lament." The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Seventh Edition. Volume 1. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W. W.

Norton & Company, 2000. 114-209.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Representation of Medieval Women In The Canterbury Tales Essays

- The Representation of Medieval Women In The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer, and English writer and civil servant, began writing his most famous work The Canterbury Tales in 1386 (Chaucer iii). The story is about a group of pilgrims who journey together to Canterbury to seek the shrines of St. Thomas á Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was killed by order of Henry II in 1170 (1). During this pilgrimage, each character is introduced and is given a chance to tell a story to pass the time. In “The Knight’s Tale,” and “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” Chaucer represents two very different type of medieval women by representing women who differ in power over men and virtues....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Geoffrey Chaucer]

Free Essays
751 words (2.1 pages)

The Roles of Women in Medieval Scandinavia Essay

- When people think about Medieval Scandinavia they usually think about a cold northern region inhabited by a warrior people who spend all of their time sailing around in Viking warships and plundering from one another or going to war with their neighbors. While our archaeological evidence from this period may be rather scarce, many cite the Scandinavian pagan religions as a evidence of this warrior society due to the fact that men were encouraged to fight in order to be chosen by the gods to live in Valhalla, the pagan equivalent, loosely equivalent, of heaven....   [tags: european history, world history]

Strong Essays
4026 words (11.5 pages)

Essay about Women in the Medieval Society

- Understanding the way women both were controllers of and controlled by social, political and cultural forces in the medieval period is a complex matter. This is due to a number of factors- the lack of documentation of medieval women, high numbers of illiteracy amongst women, especially lower class, medieval sources being viewed through a contemporary lens and the actual limitations and expectations placed upon women during the period, to name a few. The primary sources: The Treasure of The City of Ladies by Catherine of Siena and Peter of Blois’ letter to Eleanor of Aquitaine concerning her rebellion, highlight the restrictions women were expected to adhere to, and the subsequent reprimandin...   [tags: Power, Stereotypes, Eleanor of Aquitaine]

Strong Essays
1280 words (3.7 pages)

Jewish Women in Medieval Ashkenaz Essay

- ... They began to see more power with their spouses, family, and society as a whole. The legal sphere transformed the social status of women, as Grossman argues “for the first time in Jewish history, the women had .the upper-hand” concerning divorce and marriage. It can be assumed that the legal rulings gave women security, peace of mind, and a new place in social status. One of the major areas of discrimination against Jewish women was in education. The Talmudic tradition was the main factor which led to discrimination, with excessive assertion on the value of feminine modesty....   [tags: region of Northern France and Germany]

Strong Essays
1548 words (4.4 pages)

Women Of The Medieval West Essay

- In the period of 1200 – 1400 in the Medieval West, the Church had a huge influence over society. There were many ideals set by the Church that the people were expected to accept. Women in particular, had specific roles in which they had to conform to, and the majority of women did so. The two main roles available for a women in this time period were that of a wife, and taking on the responsibilities of caring for a household. The other main choice that came about through the development of the church was the role of a Nun, where a women was expected to live a life of contemplation and prayer....   [tags: Marriage, Wife, Family, Social class]

Strong Essays
901 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Medieval Women

- Medieval Women The roles of women in early Anglo-Saxon culture were strictly defined. Women were viewed as possessions and served the function of the peace-weaver. In this role women were married off to warring tribes to promote peace and were to perform duties such as passing the cup from warrior to warrior during ceremonial functions. Women in Anglo-Saxon culture possessed virtually no autonomy and consequently were consistently at the mercy of their lords or husbands. The sense of isolation and desperation felt by these women is captured in the “The Wife’s Lament” as the speaker describes her inability to control her own situation....   [tags: Anglo-Saxon Essays]

Strong Essays
1031 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The Women's Place in Medieval Society

- Life in the medieval society was one of the most painful for women. It was evident by the high level of exploitation and oppression of women. At a time when wealthy men enjoyed stylish life, women had very hard times. Comfort was not a privilege but a luxury that only few women could afford. Men completely dominated the society and any concrete decision to be made was their preserve (Spielvogel 179). Women were not consulted even in matters that directly affected their lives; they had little or no say in the decision making process....   [tags: Female Privileges, Middle Ages]

Strong Essays
496 words (1.4 pages)

Analysis of Caroline Walker Bynum´s Holy Feast and Holy Fast Essays

- ... Finally, in order to demonstrate comparatively how the role of Eucharistic devotion and extreme fasting was not nearly as prominent a theme among men as it was with women, Bynum also explores the presence (or lack thereof) of food-related motifs in the vitae of male saints. The third and final section, ‘The Explanation,’ wherein rests the chapter this review is most concerned with, is used by Bynum to draw out a handful of conclusions from the literary evidence gathered in previous chapters....   [tags: Medieval, Women, Food]

Strong Essays
1797 words (5.1 pages)

Religious Women in Medieval Time Essays

- Religious Women in Medieval Time The Middle Ages did not offer women many options of lifestyles. During these times women could either be virgin martyrs and sacrifice themselves in religious rituals, or become wives and mother. None of these options offered women a real chance to live, to create, to enjoy. New options emerged, these options allowed them not only to live free of male dominance, but also to be educated and to use their creativity in areas like music, theater, science, and philosophy....   [tags: History Females Religion Essays]

Strong Essays
1461 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Role of Women in The Middle Ages

-       The history of the Middle Ages is generally known through the recorded accomplishments of wealthy aristocratic men. The rigidly stratified social structure allowed little or no chance for advancement, especially for the very poor. Therefore, the voice of the poverty stricken masses goes unheard or is simply drowned out by the ruling class. However, beyond even the discontented whisper of the poor, another voice without even a breath to push it yearns to be heard. This is a voice that would ultimately help to integrate medieval society and help to establish a more civilized culture in Britain....   [tags: Women in Medieval Society]

Strong Essays
2911 words (8.3 pages)