Women in Beowulf Epic Poem

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Written in the past centuries, Beowulf, an epic poem, which has a male as the main hero, also gives importance to women. In the poem, several different women such as Wealhtheow, Hygd, and Grendel’s mother are introduced. Each individual woman is portrayed as very strong individuals who possess unique characteristics. With each having characteristics of their own, they have very different roles in the poem. Some of the women are portrayed as great hostesses and very welcoming towards their guest, such as Wealhtheow and Hygd. On the other hand, some women are portrayed as evil and uninviting monsters, such as Grendel’s mother. In … Beowulf, the foundational roles of women are seen even though they are vaguely brought up in the poem.

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The main female protagonist is shown to be Wealhtheow; However, she is not seen as a character until her ladylike etiquettes need to be presented. Throughout the poem, however much Wealhtheow is given to speak, she is portrayed as well mannered and very respected in the mead hall. In return, Wealtheow respects the men of the hall “adorned in her gold, she graciously saluted the men in the hall, then handed the cup first to Hrothgar, their homeland’s guardian”. (Beowulf Line 614-616) As it may seem to some readers, Wealtheow is not the typical cup-bearer. She is much more powerful, as she is able to speak and welcome the guests of the mead hall. Due to her extreme politeness, Wealhtheow is given a respectful response in return from Beowulf. As the reader can conclude, due to Wealhtheow’s ability to speak and welcome the guests, she is perhaps well educated: “with measured words she welcomed the Geat and thanked God for granting her wish that a deliverer she could believe in would arrive to ease their afflictions.” (Beowulf Line 625-628) Wealtheow understands her responsibilities like any other queen should. Wealtheow also clearly understands the importance of the different earned statuses of the guests in the mead hall, which is later proven in the poem. Later in the poem, when Wealtheow is introduced again, she offers the first cup to the king and the next cup to Beowulf. The reason behind this is that Beowulf kept his promise and killed Grendel. Due to this, Beowulf has risen to a higher status than the rest of them. These descriptions of Wealtheow’s attendance during the mead-hall shows her respect she has for her lord, Hrothgar, adding on to the respect she has earned from the people. 

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