Women in the Epic of Beowulf and in Other Anglo-Saxon Poems Essay

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The Women in Beowulf and in Other Anglo-Saxon Poems

Are women in these poems active equals of the men? Or are they passive victims of the men? The roles of the women in Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon poems are not always stereotyped ones of passive homemaker and childbearer and peaceweaver, but sometimes ones giving freedom of choice, range of activity, and room for personal growth and development.

Beowulf makes reference to Ingeld and his wife and the coming Heathobard feud:

in that hot passion

his love for peace-weaver, his wife, will cool (2065-66)

This is a rare passage, for Anglo-Saxon poetry rarely mentions romantic feelings toward women. In fact, one’s marital status wasn’t even considered
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I have been told you would have this warrior

for your son. Heorot is cleansed,

bright hall of rings; use while you may

your gifts from so many, and leave to your kinsmen

the nation and folk when you must go forth

to await your judgment. Full well I know

of my gracious Hrothulf that he would rule

the young men in honor, would keep all well,

if you should give up this world before him.

I expect he will want to repay our sons

only with good once he recalls

all we have done when he was younger

to honor his desires and his name in the world(1169-87).

This dignified plea showed how much status women had in the king’s court. The king was expected to listen and heed the queen’s words. Tacitus in his Annals describes how the court was the royal lady’s home just as much as it was the
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