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Roles Of Women In Beowulf Essay

975 words - 4 pages

Around the tenth century, women were not well respected. They often took a back seat in society and were even looked on as less than men. This is also true in the literature of that time period where women are never the main characters or heroes. However, in the epic poem “Beowulf”, of an unknown source from around the tenth century, women play a major role. They may not be the center of attention, but they are very important nonetheless. The women of “Beowulf” host the men, attempt to keep peace, and defy social expectations of the tenth century of what it means to be a woman. They play the vital roles of hostess, peace weaver, and contradiction to the standard women.
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The next role of women in “Beowulf” is the peace weaver. Women like Hildeburh try to make peace between their clan and a rival clan. In her case she wants to keep peace between Danes and the Fins. As a Danish princess, she is married off to the Finnish prince in order to end the feud between the two tribes. She is the link between two kingdoms, the only thing preventing battle from breaking out, a peacekeeper. Unfortunately, she fails and war breaks out. The result is the deaths of many, including her brother, a Dane, and her son, a Fin. Even in failure, Hildeburh tried to bond to two rivals. She demands that her son and her brother, enemies on the battlefield, be burned together on the funeral pyre. She is trying to lead by example and show that the Fins and the Danes fighting will only lead to the death of loved ones and that in death it doesn’t matter where you are from. It is her ultimate attempt to create peace(1070-1159). Moreover, Hrothgar’s daughter, Freawaru, is married off to a rival prince named Ingeld in order to end a feud with his kingdom and the Danes. Much like Hildeburh, Freawaru is the link between these two kingdoms(2024-2029). She is there to keep peace. Hildeburh and Freawaru alike try their hardest to maintain peace and order in “Beowulf” and thereby fulfil the role of peace weaver.
The final role of women in “Beowulf” the contradiction to the standard women that defies all expectations of women in “Beowulf”. Grendel’s mother fits into this description nicely, if you accept that she is a human woman despite her outward appearance and inward corruption. Most women were...

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