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The Role of Women in The Epic of Beowulf

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Words: 1044 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Jan 28, 2021

Words: 1044|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Jan 28, 2021

When women were introduced into literature, many believed they had no place. That they didn’t need to be shown in literature, or media in any way because of the fact that they aren't showcased in normal everyday life. Many people believe that the world of literature is about masculinity or men in general. Women always had supporting roles when they got introduced or they had the roles of mom or wife. That is exactly what the women in Beowulf were portrayed as. There were three different types of women. The queens, the monster-like, and the peace weavers. The women are named Wealhtheow, Hygd, Hildeburh, Freawaru, Thyrth and Grendel’s Mother. The queens are Wealhtheow and Hygd, monster-like women are Thyrth and Grendel’s Mother and the peace weavers are Hildeburh and Freawaru. In today’s society, as trophy wives, the peace weavers are almost like mediators in court and the monster-like women that are independent people that live their own lives and can do whatever they want in their life not caring what other people think. These women all have a role to play even if it is not a very large role but it is very important role. These women are written to help in many different ways that may not look like a very common ways women help.

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The queens are trophy wives because they are married to older men and are used to make the men look a lot better. In the poem, the queens are seen to be carrying around a cup and passing it to the kings and warriors. They are doing this because it shows they can take care of the welfare of the men and satisfy the bodies and souls of these men. The poet describes Wealtheow’s first appearance at Beowulf’s welcome feast. “So the laughter started, the din got louder and the crowd was happy. Wealtheow came in Hrothgar’s queen, observing the courtesies. Adorned in her gold, she graciously saluted the men in the hall, then handed the cup first to Hrothgar, their homeland’s guardian, urging him to drink deep and enjoy it because he was dear to them. And he drank it down like the warlord he was, with festive cheer.” This really shows how she was first seen.

The first time she is introduced she is almost paraded around in all gold and is telling people to drink. The first time Hygd is introduced, she is said to be young and beautiful, almost as if she really is a trophy wife. Hygd is a very loyal woman to her king and she loves her king. She is almost the same to Wealtheow but younger. She is the same because the first thing that Hygd did when Beowulf approached, was pour mead of him and his men. These women are truly depicted as trophy wives because the definition of a trophy wife is a young, attractive wife regarded as a status symbol for an older man. These women have power over their men and their politics.

The peace weavers are named Hildeburh and Freawaru and they were in the poem to, do what the name implies, keep the peace between groups. Hildeburh married Finn, the king of Jutes. They married to settle the feud that that Beowulf started himself. When she married Finn, they had a kid. With the kid, they thought that the Danish and the Jutes would stop fighting. That did not happen. That ended with Hildeburh’s husband, son and brother’s death. Another failed attempt was with Freawaru, King Hrothgar’s daughter. She married Ingeld, the king of Heathobards. The two families married together were were two fighting tribes and the marriage was only to bring them together. These women were also seen as beautiful women instead of just women. Freawaru was introduced in line 2022 and she was seen wearing “gold trimmed attire” and they had hopes that “this woman will heal old wounds and grievous feuds.” Women like this are seen as almost mediators in court. When there is a dispute between two people in court, a mediator is there to calm everyone down. Mediators are there to keep the peace but also stop it from starting again. These women have the ability to calm two warring groups and turn them into family.

The monster-like women on the other hand are completely different from the peaceweavers and the queens. The women are Grendel’s mother and Thyrth. They are unlike the others because they are fine with being mean and getting what they want. They would rather use weapons and the strength they have than get into marriage. Grendel’s mother is seen as if she is only there for the idea of pain. When she is first introduced she is said to be “Grendel’s mother, monstrous hell bride, brooded on her wrongs.” and that shows that she is there for one reason only.

To wreak havoc on anything around her and to get revenge for her son. She is an independent woman and she lives by herself. Thyrth was evil. She was guilty of a lot of crimes and she would kill a lot of people. Even though these two may seem the same, they are different, Grendel’s mother is a monster while Thyrth is a princess. In today’s society they would be seen as independent people who carry on with their own lives. As well as taking their rights into their own hands when needed. These women show that not everyone is in need of political power to get what they want in life.

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Beowulf is a long poem. Very hard to follow at times, but when women are introduced, the reader gets to see more of the story. When the women enter, they can connect to the women or the poem better than before. Women were only there for a short time but they brought more to the story than thought. The women are there to help the king impress the kingdom, keep the peace between two fighting tribes or just to live their lives as they wish. Women are very strong independent people and deserve to be depicted like that. Women are powerful and without them, there would be no powerful wiome. If people truly look at it, every powerful man, has a powerful woman behind them. 

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

The Role of Women In the Epic of Beowulf. (2021, January 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-women-in-epic-of-beowulf/
“The Role of Women In the Epic of Beowulf.” GradesFixer, 25 Jan. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-women-in-epic-of-beowulf/
The Role of Women In the Epic of Beowulf. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-women-in-epic-of-beowulf/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
The Role of Women In the Epic of Beowulf [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jan 25 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-role-of-women-in-epic-of-beowulf/
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