Beowulf

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Jane Chance’s critical essay on Beowulf gives the reader an in depth view of women roles and views from another angle. A lot of critical essays pertaining to Beowulf focus more on the man or men and Christian symbolic meaning. Chance gives us another side to Beowulf through the view of the women. She sees Wealtheow as the strength of the community as well as a peace keeper. At this time the women were supposed to be seen as a peace maker or an initiator of cultural rituals such as passing the cup and in what order. In this sense Chance believes that this sort of expectancy of women’s etiquette is what shows Grendel’s mother in a negative light. She then goes on to show that the author portrays Grendel’s mother as some sort of sex symbol. Reading and uncovering meanings behind Beowulf I tended to get wrapped up in the male dominated plot. However, after reading Jane Chance’s critical essay I find myself going back looking at the roles of the women. When she explained the social necessity to have women play out what their roles were showed me how much responsibility they had. Wealtheow was the peace maker. She had to make sure she was the one who diffused possible tension, and at the same time make sure the social respect was given to and from the men. For example, at the celebration in the hall Wealtheow starts the ritual of passing the cups. She first passes the cup to her husband the King, and “bids him to be joyful at drinking as well as loving to his people.” Then she then passes the cups to the “old retainers”, the “young retainers”, and then finally the guest Beowulf. After Jane explained this I thought the correlation between the woman seen as the peacemaker and Grendel’s mother was very special. Grendel’s mother was the total opposite of what an Anglo-Saxon woman was supposed to be. For one she was very masculine and strong; unlike what an Anglo-Saxon women were supposed to be like. However she was also has those same characteristics of a woman. She ran...
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