Promp: what does beowulf have to say about women? Specifically, what is a women’s proper role in Beowulf? Consider actual Anglo- Saxon queens
To the Anglo-Saxon’s, women did not serve as incredibly prominent figures. In a society where war was consistent in everyday life, the ability to fight, being powerful, and ultimately being warriors were treasured. Men were physically stronger and therefore were immediately given the roles of warriors and had higher expectations. Anglo-Saxon women were not considered warriors and especially not expected to fight. Women were then given “less significant” roles in society. Although women were exempt from the higher prized roles, they still managed to attain a certain propriety. The epic Beowulf has three women who play roles that vary yet, are symbolic for the culture. These women are Hildeburh, Wealtheow, and Grendel’s mother and they represent three varying roles that Anglo-Saxon women play: the peacemaker, the hostess, and the monster. (Mention last lady, Aethelflaed, somewhere in the intro)
The peacemaker is defined as the woman who is held accountable for unifying the tribes. The most prominent character for the peacemaker role in Beowulf is Hildenburh. She is the Danish princess and daughter of the king of Danes. She was married off to the king of Jutes, Finn. She succeeded in her duties by having a son intertwining the blood between the two tribes. The marriage was unsuccessful though because the tribes continued to fight and Hildenburh lost her only son, brother, and husband. She ended up being returned to the Danes after everyone close to her perished in a battle. She pressed that they’d be buried (buried or burned together, check with next sentence to see which v...
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... campaign was against a Welsh king who killed a Mercian abbot. The sole reason she sought to kill this king was to avenge the abbot from her people. This greatly relates to Grendel’s mother in the sense that she became a warrior as well as someone who seeks revenge.
The roles of women are central to the story and in maintaining a civilized society. The hostess serves as a political instrument that brings hospitality and order to the land, while the peacemaker weaves herself between lands to form alliances. At last, the monster is a complex female that opposes the social expectations of a female and utilizes the law of man to solve problems. The epic does not exalt the women in the story for their influence over men, however, it should be considered in order to fully grasp the purpose of the actions (made by the women or all characters?) taken throughout the story.
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