Women in Beowulf

Małgorzata Szynkaruk
The representation of women in the poem, ‘’Beowulf’’ and ‘’Beowulf’’ – Novel by C. R. Kiernan

Women in the poem ‘’Beowulf’’ represent the image of homemakers. Most of the poem is dominated by male characters and women appear there infrequently. They hardly ask any questions and mainly perform their duties such as serving the guests in the mead hall.
The poem introduces two main female characters, Wealthow and Grendel’s mother. The former is Hrothgar’s wife, the queen of the Danes. While the later is an unnamed female monster.
Wealthow is a typical representation of the traditional Anglo-Saxon woman. She is the one who conscientiously attend the guests in the mead hall constantly refilling their cups. ‘’Wealthow, Hrothgar’s queen, stepped forth, mindful of etiquette; decked with gold, she greeted the men in the hall, and then the noble women gave the goblet first to the guardian of the East Danes’ homeland;[…]Then, the lady of the Helmings went about everywhere among both tried warriors and youths, passed round the precious cup…’’(605 – 613)
Either she walks among the guests performing her duties or faithfully follows her husband. This indicates she is presented as a member of weaker gender. She is a peacemaker, praised by author, a typical loving mother.
But she is a clever and intelligent woman too. After Beowulf’s victory over the monster, she passes the goblet to Beowulf and skillfully addressing her husband the queen raises the issue of her sons’ future in front of the assembled people in the hall, making sure that Hrethric and Hrothmund are unthreatened as the only heirs to the throne:
‘’I know my gracious Hrothulf – that he will treat these youths honorably if you, friend of the Scyldings, should leave the world before him; I imagine that he will repay our offspring well, if he remembers all the favors we both bestowed on him for his pleasure and his honour while he was still a child.’’ (1175 – 79)
Grendel’s mother, a monster...