The Depiction of Women in Beowulf: A comparison between different time periods
A comparison between different time periods
Women had the option to choose whom they marry
Arranged marriages existed primarily in upper classes
“fricwebba” marriages, or peace-weaving
marriages, are created when a woman marries
someone from a rival clan to create peace
Peace-weaving are seen to have more power because
they are the sole reason there is peace between the
nations, even if peace is not necessarily kept.
There were several laws intact preserve a woman’s
rights, like the ability to divorce a husband, and keep
land in case of his death.
Acts the part of a peace-weaver by offering everyone a drink from the same
goblet, unites them, in a sense.
portrayed as a disgusting being
Barely feminine, practically genderless
Daugther of Hrothgar
Married to King Ingeld, of the Heatho-Bards as a Peace-weaver
Peace was only fleeting, due to reminders of old anger
Killed anyone who looked at her because of perceived insult
Was “tamed” and became a virtuous queen after marrying King Offa
A ‘bad’ woman can be fixed through the help of a man
Daughter of Beow
Less dignified without a name
“balm in bed”
Mentioned simply for her abilities in bed
Fan depictions of Grendel’s Mother based on the Poem
Risden said how the Post- Freud society cannot help
but sexualize text, that we frequently read sexual
innuendo and puns into otherwise innocent speech
Obvious sexual content is rarely present in the original
poem Beowulf, most content is found after harsh
Beowulf is shown to never marry in the Poem
Revolted by significantly older husband Hrothgar, and refused to sleep with
him, making her appear more powerful in comparison to the poem
Was exposed to the unpleasantness of Grendel
Had sexual tension with Beowulf, and became his queen after Hrothgar died
A golden shapeshifter that primarily takes the form of a naked, beautiful
woman, who’s true form is hinted to be more monstrous
Seduced Beowulf and Hrothgar with the promise of power so she could birth horrible
monsters that created chaos in their reign
Used her sexuality as a strength to get what she wanted, undermined the men’s ability
to resist their libidos
Simultaneously was recreated as the most powerful and the most sexualized
character, in contrast to her original depiction in the poem
Women were inserted in the party before Grendel appears and acted in sexually
promiscuous ways, whereas women were not even mentioned at Heorot in the
Spoke in sexually explicit manner about Beowulf and his army
Grendel’s Mother and Wealhtheow in the 2007 movie Beowulf
After conducting our study, our group has come to a few
The 21st century is a more receiving audience of sexuality, as
evident in the 2007 Beowulf film.
This sexuality served as a way for the female characters to
display their own power.
Women were not depicted as overall important or powerful
characters in the original poem.
Women that showed power eventually had it extinguished
Therefore, we concluded that different societies will depict
women differently based on their cultural values on them.
Beowulf. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Paramount Pictures, 2007. Film
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"News Article - Beowulf." Beowulf. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.
Risden, E. L. “The Cinematic Sexualizing of Beowulf” Essays in Medieval Studies 26 (2010):
109-115. Project MUSE. Database. 10 Oct. 2013