Gender Roles In Beowulf

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Pages: 5

During the epic poem Beowulf written by unknown, many qualities are shown that reveal the society of the world of humans. Written in 700, and known as the oldest English epic, the people during this time valued loyalty, bravery, and heroicness. These characteristics define the protagonist of the epic, Beowulf. Beowulf, a member of the patrician, fights three monsters in the epic poem, and each reveal many things about the society and world of humans in the epic. Throughout the epic poem the battles between Beowulf and the monsters expose many things about the world of the poem and society of humans: monsters can reveal human traits, gender roles are defied, and the societies have similarities in rulers. In the epic poem, Grendel, a night …show more content…
Grendel’s mother is choleric because Beowulf has just killed her son; therefore, she chooses to fight Beowulf. Grendel’s mother is only referred to as a mother, which gives the impression that she is not intimidating. Beowulf says, “The mother of Grendel, a monstrous hag,/Brooded over her misery, doomed to dwell” (41). Grendel’s mother is never given a true name in the epic and is only referred to as a woman or mother. This shows that the society might not have as much respect for women as they do for men. Grendel’s mother shows the society’s ability to underestimate women when it comes to battles. Unknown says, “When the dam of Grendel burst in the door./ But the terror was less as the war-craft is weaker,/A women’s strength, then the might of a man” (42). The epic misjudges the true ferociousness of Grendel’s mother because it describes her of less a monster than a man. The epic only gives Grendel’s mother a modicum of credit. This is ironic because Grendel’s mother was one of the hardest battles Beowulf ever faced. Going into the fight, Beowulf knew it would be hard because he went into the battle with many accoutrements, which he did not do for any of the other battles. She almost had the power to kill Beowulf. The epic poem says, “Swift she grappled and grasped the warrior/ With horrid grip, but could work no harm,/ No hurt to his body; the ring-locked byrny” (49). Grendel’s mother was the only monster that was able to have a tight grip on Beowulf and come close to defeating them. Grendel’s mother displays the stereotypes that the people in the novel show. They think of women as inferior to men, and they do not expect women to fight in