Anglo-Saxon women had specific roles in society: mother, wife, hostess, mediator, and retainer. Any woman that did not fit in this societal mold was rejected and considered unfeminine, which, at the time, was synonymous with monstrous. In Beowulf, Grendel’s mother is characterized as a monster because of her defiance of Anglo-Saxon gender roles and failure to follow the social expectation of hospitality, which is enhanced by her juxtaposition to Wealhtheow.
Grendel’s mother challenges the roles that she is expected to follow as an Anglo-Saxon woman, which makes her an outcast and social pariah. Women were expected to be passive: “…the idea is stressed that a kinswoman or mother must passively accept and not actively avenge the loss of her …show more content…
Hospitality was used to maintain peace and create friendships and alliances: “Hospitality is a common social, religious, and moral imperative that should guarantee the peaceful reception of a foreigner and ensure a harmonious regulation of host and guest relationships” (Michelet). Grendel’s mother’s disobedience towards this tradition makes her despicable because of her disregard for its societal importance. Instead of providing a friendly welcome to her home, Grendel’s mother greets her guest, Beowulf, with hostility: “She welcomed him in her claws, clutched at him savagely…” (Beowulf 1501). She is not amicable whatsoever; Grendel’s mother is threatening and unwelcoming. To illustrate her inhospitality, her home is referred to as a battle-hall. The title of battle-hall insinuates her home as a violent and contentious place. Because of her aggressive welcoming of Beowulf, Grendel’s mother ruins the paramount relationship between guest and host: “The reception that she offers Beowulf is obviously hostile: the codes of hospitality do not operate to transform the two antagonists into a host and a guest respectively. The host/guest boundaries collapse…” (Michelet). Beowulf is not a guest in her home; he is an enemy that is greeted with violence. His status as a guest ends because of a physical altercation, resulting in Grendel’s mother’s status as a host also ending. Her rejection of the role of the neighborly
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In the Epic Poems Beowulf, by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, and Grendel written by John Gardner, Grendel, regardless of what he does, has been seen as unsafe to man. Grendel, perceived as treacherous, is just misunderstood and an outcast to society. The back story of Grendel is crucial to the reader’s understanding of Grendel becoming a monster. Grendel’s life experiences of his environment, men and meeting a dragon contribute to the drastic change.
Another part of the text which is evidence to Grendel not being the monster he is made out to be, is the relationship dynamic between Grendel and his mother, and also his mother’s actions after his death. The actions of Grendel’s mother are not those of a monster, but those of any normal woman who has children. After her son was killed (murdered and then part of his body was taken as a trophy), she just wanted to seek revenge. “But now his mother/ had sailed forth on a savage journey,/grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge.” (1276-1278). Grendel’s mother displayed the emotions of complete sadness and despair over her son; it seems more of a human response rather than that belonging to a monster. Considering that the bond of a mother and son is supposed to be the strongest bond of all, her actions after his death are in a way justified. It is easy to see that the character of Grendel is much more than just a monster through his mother’s subsequent actions of taking down Grendel’s arm from hanging in Heorot, and feuding (in her own way she was trying to feud, to obey the code as it was in this time. When she went to Heorot to seek her revenge, she did not
Grendel’s mother is portrayed in a negative and objectified image. First, she has a sexual appeal. Grendel’s mom wears no clothes; her skin is gold, which covers her body. She is half woman and half monster. She has a promiscuous look that draws in attention from the opposite sex. In addition, she has a sexual attitude. Right when Beowulf enters the
Although he describes her as a “life-bloated, baffled, long-suffering hag” (11), Grendel realizes that “she would gladly have given her life to end my [his] suffering… with useless, mindless love” (102). He also believes that “she must have some human in her” (11), furthering Grendel’s character as one that derived from humankind at the very least. The novel acts as a witness to the fact that Grendel did have a childhood. Although his childhood brought on some struggles, this is a part of all life, including that of people. He finds his purpose in life when “at an early age [he] is forced to deal with a brutal and meaningless reality” (Butts) and he begins he finds his purpose. Throughout Gardner’s novel, Grendel tries to learn “how best to deal with the world” (Butts). As Grendel grows up, he learns from and is influenced by many different people who act as his teachers and role models. These interactions are Grendel’s closest alternative to the relations that the average human has. Grendel has three unique influences in his life: his mother, the Shaper, and the dragon. Grendel views his mother with disgust and she provides the inspiration and motivation for him to do better with his own life. The Shaper’s influence brings out Grendel’s ability of
Beowulf is an epic tale written over twelve hundred years ago. In the poem, several different female characters are introduced, and each woman possesses detailed and unique characteristics. The women in Beowulf are portrayed as strong individuals, each of whom has a specific role within the poem. Some women are cast as the cup-bearers and gracious hostesses of the mead halls, such as Wealhtheow and Hygd, while others, Grendel's mother, fulfill the role of a monstrous uninvited guest. The woman's role of the time period, author's attitude, and societal expectations for women are evidenced throughout the poem.
“[Grendel’s] mother had sallied forth on a savage journey,/ grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge” (Beowulf, 1276-1278). Her desire to avenge her son is carried out, but it ultimately leads to her death. Beowulf’s desire to garner fame and respect overpowers all of the raw emotion and anger felt by Grendel’s mother. She serves the purpose of showing the purest form of revenge, and how its blindness can lead to one’s demise.
The battle between Beowulf and Grendel's mother has its similarities and differences as well. Throughout the movie, clues are given about Grendel’s mother when encountering mysterious hands breaching the water while
Grendel’s mother is a swamp-hag who lives in a desolate lake. She comes to Heorot seeking revenge for her son’s death. She murders Aeschere, who is one of the king’s best friends and most-trusted advisers. After murdering him, she sinks back down into the lake to return to her house. Beowulf decides to pursue her into the lake to fight her in the underwater house. Beowulf kills her with a sword that was made for a giant. After killing her, he discovers Grendel's body in her underwater house. He cuts off Grendel's head and brings it back to the king as another prize to hang in the mead-hall as a
Grendel’s mother is saddened and angered when she finds out her son is dead and proceeds to Herot: “But a monster still lived, and meant revenge.”(Beowulf, page 56). Vengeance is the cause of destruction and that is what Grendel’s mother wants to do to the men of
Beowulf sets his sights towards Grendel 's mother shortly after the second attack on Heorot. Grendel 's mother is similarly linked to Cain just as her son was. According to the selection, it is said that after Cain was cast away by God, his mark of murder followed him. Everywhere Cain walked, monsters and shadows arose from the ground in which Grendel 's mother is a result of. It is interesting to note that the story of Beowulf effortlessly contorted the Christian story of Cain by adding Pagan influences such as monsters. Nonetheless, like previous battles, the fight against Grendel 's mother was a result of vengeance. Grendel 's mother lived miserably in dark, monster infested waters, but caused no harm until the death of her son whom she was obligated to avenge.
In addition, Grendel’s mother plays a big role in the novel and the relationship between Grendel and her seems complicated. In Grendel, Grendel calls his mother mean names such as fat, but Grendel does love his mother. The only reason why he can not show her any affection, she does not speak the same language he does. This explains why she stared into his soul at often times because it was her way of showing him affection. She would also do things like smother him in her and although he did not like it, he took it because he knew this was one of her few ways of showing him she loved him.
In the poem Beowulf, the most evident theme is the importance of the Germanic heroic code. The heroic code was what made Beowulf so famous and god-like during his renowned life. The code is displayed in the opening lines of the poem and continued to show up throughout the duration of the poem. Heroism is often painted with a protagonist, which causes some acts of heroism to be overlooked when an antagonist follows the heroic code. Throughout the poem, there are many acts of heroism displayed, but many people overlook the way that Grendel’s mother followed the Germanic heroic code. Grendel’s mother follows the Germanic heroic code by showing courage, strength, and honor as Beowulf does throughout the poem, something that is frowned upon in the Anglo-Saxon culture.
As an epic tale of heroes and monsters, Beowulf gives its readers much excitement and adventure, but Beowulf's importance is more than just literary. It offers many insights into the beliefs and customs of seventh-century Anglo-Saxon culture. Among these insights is the Anglo-Saxon view of women and their role in society. Good Anglo-Saxon women are peaceful and unassertive, greeting guests and serving drinks to the warriors and other men in the meadhall. Wealhtheow, the queen of the Danes, represents a typical subservient Anglo-Saxon woman. As a foil to Wealhtheow, Grendel's mother is a strong and combative monster whom Beowulf must kill. By analyzing these two characters in Beowulf, we can understand the
Grendel’s mom never paid any mind to their culture’s ideas of what a woman’s place was in their society. She turned the idea upside down and inside out. Making every man and woman fear her,