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Gender Roles: Men And Women From The Anglo Saxon To The Renaissance Era Part 1

1703 words - 7 pages

What if women never established rights? The world would not be the place it is today if that was the case. Women are able to do just as much as men are and even more. What if men were treated the same way as women were one thousand years ago? They would have felt just as the women did, hurt because the treatment between men and women was unfair. The fact that men and women were not treated equally was wrong in many ways, but that was the way of life during those times. In the British culture, from the Anglo-Saxon to the Renaissance time period, the men were respected on a higher level than women, and women were to always be subservient to men, which were demonstrated throughout many works of literature.
During the Anglo-Saxon time period, women had rights, but they were limited. The Anglo-Saxon time period began in 449 and it lasted until 1066 (Leeming 10). In the later times of that era, research proves that women were able to inherit and maintain control of that property (Leeming 10). Even if the women got married, she still held control of her property, and not her husband (Leeming 10). Although, the men of this time were supposed to be in control at all times, they did not have any other choice in that particular situation. According to David Leeming, “A prospective husband had to offer a woman a substantial (called the morgengifu, the ‘morning gift’) of money and land" (Leeming 10). The woman would make a decision to keep, sell, or just give the gift away. There were not many opportunities that were offered to women during that time. Because of the limited amount of things women could actually do, they often joined religious groups (Leeming 10). Christianity was actually one way that women were offered opportunity (Leeming 10). Despite the fact that a woman could withhold such power, an ordinary woman could not become of one those “powerful abbesses.” She typically came from a family of nobles (Leeming 10). This quote explains, “These abbesses . . . were in charge of large double houses that included both a monastery and a nunnery” (Leeming 10). To be an abbess Men were supposed to be warrior like, while the women weren’t even that important. The men were the ones in charge and the women had to obey them, which is shown throughout the story of Beowulf.
In Beowulf, Welthow represents the more traditional and conservative Anglo-Saxon woman because she is always subservient to men. Welthow being subservient to men id displayed when: “Then Welthow, / Hrothgar’s gold-ringed, green greeted / The warriors; a noble woman who knew / What was right . . . Then Welthow went from warrior to warrior, / Pouring a portion from the jeweled cup / For each, till the bracelet-wearing queen / Had carried the mead-cup among them . . . Turn to be served” (345-357). Although Welthow knows she is a queen, she still has to fulfill the needs of any man in her presence. She knows that is the right thing to do because she is aware of her role in society. Always...

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