Women in Beowulf and Lanval History Essay example

Women in Beowulf and Lanval History Essay example

Length: 1114 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview


Property of the King: Life of Medieval Women in Beowulf and Lanval
History has been recorded throughout time in stories, books, poems and other literary works. These writings give historians and readers of the present day valuable insights into the lifestyles, beliefs, society, economics, politics and pagan religion of the time period they originate. Authors are greatly influenced by the beliefs and attitudes of their own society and time. The works they write provide a window to the past that allows us to peak through and see what life was like for the people of that particular history. Middle Age literary works show the reader of the present who the people were, what was important to them, and how they lived. In a culture
with limited literacy and few surviving texts, works such as Beowulf and Lanval are extremely important factors in establishing these important historical aspects. The one thing that is apparent
is the dominance of the purely patriarchal society. The heroic code, courage in battle, bravery,loyalty to tribes and kings, place in social order, religion and chivalrous courtly love were what
this society was primarily based on. The practices and beliefs that were the stronghold of Medieval society included men and excluded women. In this predominantly male world, one is
compelled to ask the question; Where do women fit into this patriarchal Middle Age world? What are their roles? What are they valued for as women? Beowulf and Lanval paint a clear
picture of women in the Middle Ages. Both of these stories tell of a male world where women are valued as the property of their husbands. The women of Beowulf and Lanval are trapped in a life of duty. There role is that of child bearer, wife, hostess, and ornamental beauty. They are bound to their husbands, valued as 'peace weavers';, admired for their physical beauty, and have no power except the small influence they may have on their powerful husbands. Both Lanval and
Beowulf show the bleak reality of the life of the subservient powerless women with few differences.

     Beowulf is written in a male perspective. The mention of women is few and far between. The mere fact that they play such a minor role in this story is a good indication that women are
not very important to this society. Some of the women that are mentioned in the story are not even given names. Beowulf's...


... middle of paper ...


... are spoken of in
length are women who are married or related to kings. It is assumed that the women who are not queens have no power. The only power for women in this lai seems to be found in the world of
the supernatural, a land that would appear to be inhabited only by women. The queen represents the 'real'; reality of women. The beautiful supernatural women represents the way Marie de
France wishes society was like. The queen is left with no power or value. The magic women has power over Lanval, the court of knights ,and the king. This lai is written from a female point of
view. It is both a good indicator of the reality of the
time and also the way the female author imagines that it should be. Lanval is both a hopeful and depressing story. The reality is that women have no power and are virtually possessions of their
husband. The dream is that of a world where women are given a place in the world. A place that
includes power and value


Works Cited
'Beowulf.';The Longman Anthology: British Literature Ed. David Damrosch. New York:
Longman, 1999. 27-94.
de France, Marie. 'Lanval.'; The Longman Anthology: British Literature Ed. David Damrosh.
New York: Longman, 1999. 171-185.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay on The Role of Women in Beowulf

- The Role of Women in Beowulf Beowulf is an epic tale written over twelve hundred years ago. In the poem, several different female characters are introduced, and each woman possesses detailed and unique characteristics. The women in Beowulf are portrayed as strong individuals, each of whom has a specific role within the poem. Some women are cast as the cup-bearers and gracious hostesses of the mead halls, such as Wealhtheow and Hygd, while others, Grendel's mother, fulfill the role of a monstrous uninvited guest....   [tags: Beowulf Women Females Analysis]

Strong Essays
1635 words (4.7 pages)

Code of Chivalry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Lanval, and Beowulf

- Code of Chivalry The code of Chivalry can be described as a brave, loyal, courteous, distinguished courage or ability that is admired for their brave and noble qualities. Chivalry is a system of ethical ideals that arose from feudalism and had its highest development in the 12th and 13th centenry.(Columbia ElectronicEncyclopedia).Respect is an essential part of chivalry. The code of chivalry is a set of rules followed by the knights during the middle ages. The evolution of heroic and chivalry code has changed over time beginning from the Middle ages to now....   [tags: respect, knight, rules]

Strong Essays
972 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Epic Poem, Beowulf - Women in Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Society

- Women in Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Society     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....   [tags: Epic Beowulf Women Essays]

Strong Essays
965 words (2.8 pages)

Essay about Solitude in Marie de France's Lanval

- Solitude in Marie de France's Lanval Marie de France’s “Lanval” is a Breton lai dominated by themes common to 12th century literature, which through its exploration of love, erotic desire, wealth, gender and community, tells the story of a young knight who finds himself caught between two worlds: his lover’s and his own. Forced to separate these societies by a warning in which his lover states, “do not let any man know about this…you would lose me for good if this love were known” (Lines 145-148), Lanval must keep his love a secret and exist apart from the Arthurian world into which he was born....   [tags: Marie de France Lanval Love Essays]

Strong Essays
1378 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on Women in Beowulf and Arthurian Legend

- Women in Beowulf and Arthurian Legend A common theme in the stories we have read is that glory, happiness, and success come in cycles (this theme is commonly represented as "the wheel of fortune"). This theme is present in the Arthurian tales, as well as in Beowulf. Each story tells a tale (or part of a tale) of a rise to glory, and the proceeding fall to disarray. The men always were the kings and warriors, but the women played different roles in the different stories. The women of Beowulf were used to bind up peace (or were peaceful women), whereas the women of Arthurian legend tended to disturb the peace and cause strife....   [tags: Females Beowulf Arthurian Legend Essays]

Strong Essays
1281 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Romantic Love in Marie de France’s Poem, Lanval

- Romantic Love in Marie de France’s Poem, Lanval In her poem "Lanval," Marie de France shares a fantasy with her readers, telling the tale of a mysterious woman who journeys from a distant land to be with Lanval, a dishonored knight of King Arthur's Round Table. Marie's portrayal sets Lanval's mistress apart from the maidens and ladies in waiting at King Arthur's court, as she eclipses even Queen Guenever. Much like an editor of a modern woman's fashion magazine, Marie targets her audience of mostly aristocratic twelfth-century women....   [tags: Marie de France Lanval Essays]

Strong Essays
645 words (1.8 pages)

Essay on Women in the Epic of Beowulf

- Women in Beowulf Are women in this poem active equals of the men. Or are they passive victims of the men. The role of the women in Beowulf is not a stereotyped one of passive homemaker, but rather one having freedom of choice, range of activity, and room for personal growth and development. The poem opens with Scyld Scefing, who came motherless to rule the Danes: than those at his start who set him adrift when only a child, friendless and cold, lone on the waves. (44-46) Scyld’s motherlessness perhaps tells the reader that the heroic, superhauman, violent deeds about to transpire are perhaps not all that compatible with women and womanly qualities like passivity, gentleness, compass...   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]

Strong Essays
1116 words (3.2 pages)

The Epic Poem, Beowulf - Is Beowulf History or Myth? Essay

- Is Beowulf History or Myth?                   Many of the characters and episodes and material artifacts mentioned poetically in Beowulf are likewise presented to us from archaeological sources and from various written sources, especially Scandinavian records, thus adding credibility to the historicity of the poem. But it is obvious that Beowulf, Grendel and the Dragon clearly belong to the classification of “myth.”   In his essay “The Digressions in Beowulf” David Wright says:   Another effect of what are called the ‘historical elements’ in Beowulf – the subsidiary stories of the Danes and the Geats – is to give the poem greater depth and verisimilitude....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]

Free Essays
2817 words (8 pages)

Essay about Anglo-Saxon History and Beowulf

- Anglo-Saxon History and Beowulf By definition the word “hero” might be interpreted in one of four ways. First off in mythology and legend, a hero is often of divine ancestry. He is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods. Secondly, a hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life. Thirdly, a hero can also be described as a person noted for special achievement in a particular field....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]

Strong Essays
1592 words (4.5 pages)

Beowulf Essay

- Beowulf is a well-known Anglo-Saxon poem that has been in English classes around the United States for almost as long as there have been schools around. Beowulf is not an actual picture of historic Denmark, Geatland, or Sweden around 500 A.D., yet it is on a general view, a self-consistent picture, a construction bearing clearly the marks of design and thought. Beowulf to us can only truly be enjoyed if one reads it in the old English version. The effects of the poem are not the same, although the sense of the heroic beast is very true....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essays]

Free Essays
1412 words (4 pages)