Beowulf essay

Submitted By ballsacks102
Words: 668
Pages: 3

The Old English epic poem, Beowulf, is one which illustrates many Anglo-Saxon values. One of those values is the role of women. This value alone is slightly compromised in the epic. Female roles in Beowulf are originally meant to depict peaceful, unifying Germanic women. An example of a woman who fits that description is Queen Wealtheow of Daneland. However, an example of a female who contradicts the description entirely is Grendel's "mother." When her son is slain by the main character, she seeks immediate revenge. This is only the beginning of her contradictory characteristics. In comparison to Wealtheow, the exemplar female; Grendel's mother developed an extremely unorthodox role.
The reason why Wealtheow is a model female character is simply because she gracefully performs all of her duties as a woman. "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.../ So the Helming woman went on her rounds,/ queenly and dignified, decked out in rings,/ offering the goblet to all ranks..." (l.612-628).As described in the passage, Wealtheow loyally stands by her husband's side, as well as gracing the banquets of his mead-hall. Politically, her marital ties symbolize peace, collaboration, and harmony. Her social patterns also symbolize these same things. She succeeds in her job of keeping the hall light-hearted and jubilant. In this success, Wealtheow's character develops into a perfect example of a woman who fits into her gender role. On the other hand, Grendel's mother has no sense of values or morals whatsoever. She can be described as demonic, violent, and eerie. These are the polar opposite adjectives of a normal female character, such as Wealtheow. Though she has no name, she is either referred to as "Ma Grendel", or simply, "Grendel's Mother". This demonic figure is in fact so odd, it is almost unclear whether she is female or not. The only way to know is by her label as a "mother." Additionally, her title as a mother is almost more unclear than her gender. "...An avenger lurked and was still alive, / grimly biding time. Grendel's mother, / monstrous hell-bride, brooded on her wrongs/... Now his mother/ had sallied forth on a savage journey, / grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge. /"(l.1255-1278).This passage from Beowulf introduced “Ma" Grendel, and the beginning of her development into the least orthodox female in the poem. Not only does she lack feminine clarity, but she is entirely contradictory of all her…