Comparing the Role of Women in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Men exemplify heroic qualities in both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, however, women are depicted differently in the two stories. In Beowulf, women are not necessary to the epic, where as in Green Knight, women not only play a vital role in the plot, but they also directly control the situations that arise. Men are acknowledged for their heroic achievement in both stories, while the women's importance in each story differ. However, women are being equally degraded in both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The women in Beowulf are barely discussed and seem to exist solely for the use of the men. They are weak and portray none of the legendary qualities that the men display. Wealhtheow, the Queen of
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She is unable to speak, which symbolizes how women do not have much of a voice in this book.

Some of the women in Beowulf also serve as peacekeepers. Wealhtheow is referred to as "peace-pledged between nations" (2017). Hildeburh, a Danish Queen, is another woman who functions as a peacekeeper. She was given to Fin, a Frisian king in order to keep the peace. However, when her brother, Hnaef, kills Frisian warriors, a war breaks out and Hnaef and Fin are killed. Hildeburh is taken home, "Over sea-lanes then/ back to Daneland/ the warrior troop/ bore that lady home" (1557-1560), and she has no say in the matter. She fails at maintaining peace and is hauled home like a piece of property.

Hrothegar's daughter, Freawaru, is a third peacekeeper in the epic. She is going to marry Ingeld, Lord of the Heatho-Bards. Freawaru is told to marry Ingeld because, "the guardian of the kingdom sees good in it/ and hopes this woman will heal old wounds/ and grievous feuds" (2027-2029). Love and her desires are irrelevant in this decision. Hrothegar simply gives his daughter away to this man to benefit his own well- being. Freawaru is a piece of property also, being used to settle a war, so the men in Hrothegar's kingdom can live in peace.

Grendel's mother may seem like the exception in Beowulf, although, she too, is defeated by a man. She is able to attack the men with her, ""brutal grip" (1502), "savage

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