Examples Of Sexism In Beowulf

1596 Words7 Pages
Beowulf is doubtlessly an important piece of literature in today’s society; it is one of the earliest British texts and shows us an invaluable glimpse into medieval culture. However, it is still a sexist, racist, and religiously intolerant text for modern readers. Women are only portrayed in a social or moral position lower to Beowulf and there is no dialogue from a women that is not directed to a male or about a male. Grendel’s mother is also a victim of sexism, as she is noted several times as weaker than her son solely because of her sex. Despite the lack of diversity in Beowulf, the text still manages to mimic racism through the Geats’ attitude towards the Danes. The blatant condemnation of any religion other than Christianity also creates…show more content…
With Hrothgar, a king, in the position of supplicant to Beowulf, this reinforces that Beowulf is morally higher: he’s God’s tool to end Hrothgar’s problem. Overcoming this barrier in Beowulf only reinforces racism in today’s media, since this damaging trope is still present today. Beowulf’s superiority over the Danes alienates any minority that reads the text since it so closely mimics the white savior trope that is harmful in today’s media. A more blatant prejudice in Beowulf is the treatment of religions other than Christianity. The heavy presence of Christian beliefs and the condemnation of any other religion proposes the barrier of religious intolerance in the message of Beowulf. When the Danes feel that God has turned away from them, they try other religions in hopes to save themselves. The narrator condemns them for this, though it was an act of desperation: The Lord God, Head of the Heavens and High King of the World, was unknown to them. Oh, cursed is he who in time of trouble had to thrust his soul in the fire’s embrace, forfeiting help; he has nowhere to turn. But blessed is…show more content…
(1269-1273) Boewulf’s comparative divinity can keep any non-Christians from connecting emotionally with the poem. One of the themes is blatantly the idea that those who are Christian are successful, while followers of other religions are doomed; this message is very unfriendly to a modern audience. Such a prejudiced and stark view of religion keeps many modern readers from fully embracing the themes of Beowulf. While contemporary readers should acknowledge that Beowulf is a transformative text in British history, they should also realize that it is a racist, sexist, and religiously intolerant piece of literature. When reading Beowulf for anything more than historical context, the text shows many prejudices that cannot easily be overcome and should not be overcome, but instead recognized and criticized for the benefit of authors today. The sexism towards the few female characters in Beowulf creates a barrier from modern female readers by having no women in a position of power or influence; even one of the most important antagonists is downplayed for her gender. The subtle racism also creates emotional issues with modern readers, as it closely mimics the modern white savior trope. The narrative’s treatment of non-Christians creates negative emotions among more religiously-diverse audiences. Beowulf’s blatant sexism, racism, and religious intolerance is severely problematic and should only be overlooked for the historical context of the poem; when learning

More about Examples Of Sexism In Beowulf

Open Document