Beowulf is a hero of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, which is known for his bravery, love for his people and willingness to die for it. In his time it was considered worthy to die in battle than to live a long and happy life. Therefore, Beowulf as a true leader and warrior fights every time for life and death.
Cite References Print Abstract This essay explores the roles of women in Beowulf in a contextual assessment. It is often an incorrect assumption that women within Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon culture are subservient to a patriarchal culture that places little to no value on them.
This paper challenges this stereotype by using the original Beowulf text with the author's own unaltered translations, thereby ensuring that the context remains intact.
By limiting the influence of a modern translation, this essay avoids stripping the poem of its Anglo-Saxon verbiage, inflection, powerand meaning. Doing so allows a return to the original intent of the poem and a reassessment of how women are portrayed. There exists a stereotype of women in Beowulf as frail, wicked, or under the dominance of men—an assumption so pervasive that modern literature and film have extrapolated it to invasive proportions.
However, the female presence in Beowulf is far from a subservient one and must be revaluated from an Anglo-Saxon perspective. Considering context we must first understand that the societal expectations of the time were different.
In the Laws of Aethelbert we are given several rules regarding behavior and legal ramifications for crime. While each gender was considered free and equal, they were also deemed suitable for certain roles within the society.
Typically men were looked on for their physical prowess while women were the focus of fertility, which can be seen in the titles they are given: This does not mean that women were considered weaker, but merely that they had differing professions.
In the mind of the Anglo-Saxons, what a person possessed outwardly was the way in which they were identified. Perhaps the most extensive source of literature from the Anglo-Saxon period comes in the Beowulf epic.
Though there is no knowledge of who first transcribed it, it remains the primary example of old English poetry as reflective of the society.
Yet the common assumption that often comes from the reading of this text is that the women are believed to take on the predictably subservient role.
It is not difficult to understand how the poem has been liberally altered from the original text. It is in the dissonance between the original text and the modern ones that lead to the incorrect assumptions regarding the women in Beowulf. To look at the poem from this perspective degrades it of context and power, thus lessening its importance and connection to the Anglo-Saxon world.
On the surface it only appears that the women of Beowulf have only minor roles because their significance is either glossed over or specifically put down by scholars and analysts. On the contrary, in early Anglo-Saxon literature there is a stern representation of the strong woman in Beowulf.
We are shown several female roles within the text, but none are more telling than those of Wealhtheow and Hygd. Although it can be assumed that these women have a lesser position given the little that is said about them in comparison to Hrothgar and Beowulf, they nevertheless have imperative roles within the tale whether positive or negative.
Through the narration we can see the central positions that women hold within the society and the hall. She asserts her power in this scene by visually displaying that Hrothgar is of the highest status in the court since he is given the cup first and that Beowulf has risen to higher place by Wealhtheow offering the cup after the king drinks.
She carries the ability to make decisions for the court, bestowing Beowulf with the grace and trust of Hrothgar. Beowulf understands the significance of the gesture and thereafter promises that he will complete the task set before him, or else die in battle.
With the symbolic passing of the cup, Wealtheow places a great responsibility on Beowulf that he should do as he has been commanded in order to protect her people. Her position as the ring-giver, the gift-giver, places her in a unique place because it is she who has the power to bestow Beowulf with the rewards that comes from his killing of Grendel.
Though Hrothgar is the one who promises Beowulf riches if he should be successful, it is Wealtheow who decides what gifts he will receive and if he will receive them at all.The entire purpose of the Beowulf epic is to show how he restored calm to the kingdom of Hrothgar from the monsters who kill without distinction.
The deaths of any members of the clan are taken seriously because every life is worth something and the figures that are able to stave off feuds and death are women as peace-weavers.
Beowulf is a hero of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, which is known for his bravery, love for his people and willingness to die for it. In his time it was considered worthy to die in battle than to live a long and happy life.
Therefore, Beowulf as a true leader and warrior fights every time for life and death. There are four ways to write a woman's life: the woman herself may tell it, in what she chooses to call an autobiography; she may tell it in what she chooses to call fiction; a biographer, woman or man, may write the woman's life in what is called a biography; or the woman may write her own life in advance of living it, unconsciously, and without recognizing or naming the process.
In this modern classic, Carolyn G. Heilbrun builds an eloquent argument demonstrating that writers conform all too often to society's expectations of what women should be like at the expense of the truth of the female experience.
Majestic, Grandiose, Gruesome. Apart from the poetic qualities of the alliterative verse in which Beowulf is written (see "Genre" for more on that), the epic has a grand, majestic style that seems to lift you up as you read it.. Beowulf isn't just a hero, he's a "prince of goodness" ().
Women In Beowulf Essay. Beowulf Beowulf is an epic poem written back in the Anglo-Saxon time period - Women In Beowulf Essay introduction. While the epic poem features a significant amount of female characters such as Grendel’s Mother and Wealtheow, it is obvious that the men and their affairs are the focus of the story.