Epic Poem, Beowulf - Women in Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Society

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Women in Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Society Beowulf, one of the most translated and reproduced epics of all time, is literature that concerns characters. While Beowulf himself is the obvious hero of this Anglo-Saxon epic, many companions and fellow travelers are mentioned throughout the text. Some of these secondary characters are almost as noble and courageous as Beowulf himself, while others are lowly cowards. Be what they may, all are captured in this timeless tale of adventure. Women, however, are rarely mentioned in Beowulf. This is because of the context of an Anglo-Saxon society with rigid beliefs and customs. Even though there is very little mention of women in Beowulf (and any other document of the time period), it is…show more content…
The Anglo-Saxon wife was in charge of the store-rooms of the house; offering the cup may have symbolized the generosity of the royal couple (Page 72). Wealhtheow and Hrothgar's daughter, Freawaru, also shares in the cup-bearing, perhaps as a sign that she is of age to take on the duties of managing the household (she is already engaged to be married to the king of the Heathobards). While presenting Beowulf with the gifts, Wealhtheow takes the opportunity to ask Beowulf to be a "kind counselor" and "kind friend" to her sons. She also speaks to Hrothgar, telling him that she had heard that he was considering "having this hero [Beowulf] as a son" and to "make use of generous rewards... but leave the people and the kingdom to your kinfolk" (Hieatt 47). In other words, she asks him not to take gratitude too far and name Beowulf heir over their own sons. That she is bold enough to make both requests without hesitation or question shows that she was accustomed to authority and had some power of her own. Another indication of the power wielded by queens is the respect accorded to Hygd. She is beautiful, wise and young. Beowulf gives her the necklace that Wealhtheow had given him as well as three horses. That may have been a gesture meant to win her support within the court. Page states that "the queen or noble lady of real life must often have
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