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In Beowulf, the women we see presented are basically the wives and mothers of men. However, like Grendel’s mother, they are not always weak or ineffectual. Further, women often serve an important role or status in society, particularly in the sense that their marriages are arranged for political purposes. This analysis will explore the status of women in Beowulf, particularly the goal of marriage and the portrayal of women in society. Comparisons will be made with the status of women in Roman society.

The uses of marriage in the society of Beowulf are similar to the uses and nature of marriage in Roman society. Both Roman and medieval pagan society were ones that were based on warfare and battle. As such, marriages were often arranged to consolidate power or to bring about peace between warring factions. We see this is definitely the case in Beowulf. For example, Feawaru, Hrothgar’s daughter, was married to Ingeld in an attempt to end the blood feud between the Danes and the Heathobards. Roman marriages were also arranged to form alliances and consolidate power. Augustus, first Emperor of Rome, forced his wife Livia to divorce her first husband and marry him because he needed her wealth and influence to consolidate his own power, “Hrothgar is to marry his daughter, Freawaru, to Ingeld the Heathobard in what Beowulf grimly foresees will be a vain effort to heal the tribal feud” (Alexander 34).

Yet, male dominance and power ruled both Roman and Danish medieval society as women were seen as basically the wives of great men or the mothers of great men. Nonetheless, this does not always mean that women are portrayed as weak an ineffectual. Livia was responsible for exerting much influence over Roman affairs of state, especially as her husband grew old and feeble. She then exerted her influence through her son from her first marriage, Tiberius, whom Augustus had adopted as his heir. In Beowulf, we see women are n...

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Beowulf. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:30, November 29, 2021, from