Brittney Turner September 19 1996
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Brittney Turner September 19, 1996
Craving for the Queen
In both texts, Beowulf and Grendel, the main purpose of the Queen’s are to serve the courts as "weavers of peace". In Grendel however, Queen Wealththeow is described in much greater detail and serves a further purpose. The reader gains insight to a part Grendel that is not present in Beowulf, his desire for a human.
It was not unusual for women to be offered as tokens of peace within the noble courts. In the novel Grendel, Wealhtheow’s brother, King of the Helmings, bestowed her to King Hrothgar to promote peace amongst the Helmings and Scyldings. "She had given, her life for those she loved. So would any simpering, eyelash batting female in her court, given the proper setup, the minimal conditions"(Grendel, p.102). It is ironic how she promoted peace from her arrival because she was an essential part in keeping peace, as the "weaver of peace" in the later of both texts. Queen Wealhtheow however is not the only woman in the texts that was forsaken to encourage appeasement amongst feuding courts. Queen Hygd was offered to Hygelac under very similar circumstances as told in Beowulf, and portrayed the same role in Hygelac’s kingdom. There is reference in both texts concerning this tradition, and it is evident to the reader that this is not an unusual Anglo-Saxon custom.
Queen Wealhtheow and Queen Hygd served as excellent role models for the courts in which they served. They exemplified the mannerisms and etiquette of the noble people. Queen Wealhtheow showed excellent poise from the very beginning of both texts. She was admirable as she passed the mead bowl around Heorot. The offering of the bowl was symbolic, being that the bowl was first given to Hrothgar and then passed to Beowulf, as if she presented him with her trust. Beowulf gave Wealhtheow his guarantee that he would be successful or die in battle. After she presented Hrothgar and Beowulf with the mead bowl she served the Scyldings, and did so as if they were her own people. She was not a Scylding, nor did she desire to be one, but she never made her unhappiness known, as described in Grendel. There is not great detail on Queen Hygd in Grendel, but from what the reader can gather from Beowulf, she is as much of a female role model as Queen Wealhtheow. She was young but very intelligent. In fact King Hygelac felt intimidated by Hygds intelligence. Queen Hygd was unlike Wealhtheow in the way in which she did not bare many gifts. Hygd was more concerned about the future of the people of her kingdom succeeding Hygelacs death than Wealhtheow. Hygd offered Beowulf the kingdom because she believed it was in the best interest of the people, she loved the warriors and wished peace amongst all the people. Wealtheow on the other hand felt that the kingdom should be preserved for her sons.
Wealhtheow spoke after the "fight at Finnsburg" about the importance of her sons taking over the kingdom in the poem Beowulf, and this reminds Hrothgar of his age. This same speech affected Hrothgar in both texts. It forced him to contemplate his worthiness of Wealhtheow. He realized that she was young and beautiful, and need not be with an old man. Which made his sorrow even worse is the fact that she knew all this as well.
Queen Wealhtheow put up an excellent disguise when hiding the pain she experienced from being forced to be Hrothgars wife. Unlike in Beowulf, in Grendel the reader was given insight into Wealhtheow’s sorrow. The only time she would display her unhappiness was when she would lie in bed at night with Hrothgar with her eyes full of tears. Sometimes she would leave the kingdom to dwell in her sorrows but she would be immediately surrounded by guards, and escorted inside. Wealhtheow was homesick, she missed her land, and her brother. When her brother visited Heorot she paid no attention to Hrothgar, and Hrothgar fulfilled passing around the mead bowl. In Grendel, it told of Hrothgar’s love for wealhtheow. He would often stare at her in admiration. Despite her resentment she treated Hrothgar with much respect, she always looked up at him and referred to him as "my
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Beowulf, Geats, English-language films, Anglo-Saxon paganism, Monsters, Grendel, Wealheow, Unfer, Hrothgar, Hygd, Hygelac, Scylding
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