Essay on The Roles of Women During the Middle Ages Shown Through Beowolf

Essay on The Roles of Women During the Middle Ages Shown Through Beowolf

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A nameless servant, bed mate to a war hungry lord, waits for her husband’s return; this is the average interpretation a modern day woman will have of women of the Middle Ages. As a woman of the Old English era, many believe that the influence of women was not valued. However, the relevance of culture is an important factor in the address of the typical female figure. While old tales depict more negative views on women such as, adulterous, hags or servants; females actually served a much greater and accepted purpose. Although it is inevitable that some women were not pardoned by men due to their discrepancies toward them, most women maintained dignity within the household. In the story of Beowulf the accepted roles of women revolve around remaining loyal and serving men.
Women of higher rank are most always seen serving in the hall of their husband or father. Being Hrothgar’s queen, Wealhtheow "adorned in her gold, she graciously saluted/ the men in the hall, then handed the cup/ first to Hrothgar...offering the goblet to all ranks" (Beowulf 614-622). This manner is seen on multiple occasions throughout Beowulf. Although roles as a women were so few and unimportant being a mistress of the hall was one of the higher, more positive roles a female could hold in this time period. In looking at Wealhtheow, she gives Hrothgar first drink followed by Beowulf then on down the line of which she deems to be of next highest position. Under her husband’s will, Wealhtheow remains in fair control over the hall and the order of service she provides. This accordance is seen in every society "Haereth's daughter/ moved about with the mead-jug in her hand, taking care of the company, filling the cups/ of the warriors held out" (Beowulf 1980-1983). ...


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...y protect their tribe or community, women maintained peace and order in the absence of the men. In reading Beowulf, the portrayal of women could be as servants to the men. In reality, this was just the custom of the culture, and as seen throughout the piece women are addressed with respect and praise on many occasions. Women that received isolation and opposition were those that stood on their own without men to do the “dirty work” of violence. With regards to this, one can assume that women of this time period were seen to hold purity, delicacy, and compassion. In serving men and remaining home, men protected women from the inhumanity in war and loss of beauty in grace. This could all be seen rather than women having the mere role of insignificant slaves. In the Old English tale of Beowulf, the customary position of women in society is in respectfully serving men.

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