Women and Their Role in Beowulf

565 Words3 Pages
Beowulf is a story of glory, bravery, heroism, and revenge. A reflection of the Anglo-Saxon ideals. Also reflected in the story of Beowulf is the treatment of women during the Anglo-Saxon time period. Though they play a small role, women are in some ways critical to the story of Beowulf. Women play a small but important part in Beowulf and are often viewed as inferior. Women play a small yet significant part in the story of Beowulf. At the end of Beowulf an old woman takes part in a burial ritual. “A gnarled old woman, hair wound tight and gray on her head, groaned a song of misery, of infinite sadness and days of mourning, of fear and sorrow to come, slaughter and terror and captivity” (Beowulf 127). Beowulf was a much beloved and famous king among the Geats and as such this woman’s role in his burial ceremony would have to be of great significance. Another important woman in Beowulf is Welthow. Throughout the story, Welthow is used as a source of praise and giver of wealth to Beowulf. Welthow asks Beowulf to “Accept this cup, my lord and king! May happiness come to the Danes’ great ring-giver; may the Geats receive mild words from your mouth, words they have earned!” (Beowulf 51). Beowulf receives praise from the queen several times throughout the book and her inclusion within the story indicates that the narrator believed her to be of significance. Though women in Beowulf play only a small part, it is evident that they are critical to the story itself. Despite the important role played by women in Beowulf, they are also often times viewed as inferior. As Grendel’s mother is preparing to attack Herot to avenge her son’s death, it says that “No female, no matter how fierce, could have come with a man’s strength, fought with the power and courage men fight with” (Beowulf 57). In this quote, it is obvious that the narrator does not believe women
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