The role of women differs drastically from the poem to the movie version of Beowulf, and it says a lot about what we value as a society, and what the Anglo-saxons valued. While in the epic, the few women that are named in the story are powerful and influential, those same women, along with others that are exclusive to the movie, have nearly no influence on the men at all other than sexually. When analyzed, it can be seen that the role women play in the movie is drastically smaller, and in some ways disappointing, in comparison to their roles in the epic.
Arguably the most important woman in the entire story if Beowulf, is Grendel’s unnamed mother. Depending on if viewed in the light of the epic or the movie, she is either an ugly and gigantic water demon, or a seductive humanoid. The former is the epic version, and in that version, Beowulf battles with her in her underwater layer and defeats her, saving the kingdom from its demons. The film, however, is not so grand, and instead depicts Beowulf being seduced by the demoness, in exchange for becoming king. Now, as it turns out, the same demoness also seduced Hrothgar, probably under the same terms, and that is how the first demon Grendel is created.
A similar thing happens in light of Hrothgar’s wife; the Queen of the Shildings. While, in the book, the Queen and King have a loving, sound relationship with one another, the movie depicts their relationship as rocky, unhappy, and possibly abusive. The Queen, instead of being respected by her husband and giving her thoughts and opinions openly such as in the epic, seems only to be wanted by Hrothgar for the purpose of having an heir to the throne. Also, the young woman’s eyes wander many times to the strong, young, handsome Beowulf, instead of her husband.
Exclusive to the movie, there is a young girl who could be called Beowulf’s ‘girlfriend’, who he lays with instead of the Queen, formally Hrothgar’s wife. She serves little to no purpose in the story...