Beowulf Gender Roles

Decent Essays

Beowulf is known for displaying the importance of male heroism via Beowulf, but what about the significance of the women in the poem? The significance of women in Beowulf is overshadowed by the great heroism of the character Beowulf, but the women each have a reason for participating in the epic. The ideal woman was someone who was a noble, a mistress and loyal. An ideal woman is described in Maxim I: “at mead drinking she must at all times and places approach the protector of princes first, in front of the companions, quickly pass the first cup to her lord’s hand”. The significance of women in Beuwolf is a minor detail in the epic, but proves to be vital to Beuwolf. The epic of "Beowulf" illustrates three major roles for the women in the society: the hostess, the peacemaker, and the monster. Five women in Beowulf play the major roles throughout the epic: Wealhtheow, Freawaru, Thyrth, Grendel's Mother, and Hildeburh. These women entertain, bring peace, and contradict societal expectations of the female gender, either directly or indirectly.
The major women that appear in Beowulf are: Wealhtheow, Hildeburh, Freawaru, Thyrth and Grendel’s mother. Wealhtheow and Hygd are the only two female characters whom are royalty. Wealtheow and Hygd are seen as hostesses; rather she is the instrument that reaffirms social customs and publicly establishes the status of the men who are in the presence of the king
Noble women played an important role in heroic Anglo-Saxon society and had

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