Women In Beowulf

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In modern literature, a woman can be depicted in all manner of ways, whether she be a CEO, a princess in need of rescue, a symbol of revolution, or a stressed mother. In medieval literature, depicting a woman in power conflicted with the ideals of women gender roles. Commonly, we see this issue being resolved by characterizing a powerful woman as having an ugly appearance, and or, having a mean personality. The fairy queen depicted in Marie de France’s Lanval, Grendel’s mother in Beowulf, exhibit how the range of power a women wields affects her depiction in literature. In Lanval, the fairy queen holds a great deal of power yet, unlike the traditional stereotype in literature, she is described to be more than beautiful, “the lily and the…show more content…
The fairy queen, unlike other powerful female characters in literatures, is excused from the rules of gender and stereotypes, due to the fact that she is from a different realm and not human. “The fairy mistress is empowered by the magic she possess, by association with a supernatural world of fairy. This magic serves to mystify the means by which the maiden produces wealth and escapes the disciplines designed to control female sexuality.”(Finke 495). Thus the queens lack of humanity, allows her to The description of the fairy queen is the opposite to Grendel’s mother, for although they share similarities in their strength and power, Grendel’s mother is unexcused from the stereotype and serves as a way to enhance Beowulf’s masculinity and stature. An obvious comparison between the two woman is their physical descriptions, where the fairy is considered fair, Grendel’s mother is anything but, she is described as a “monstrous hell-bride...grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge.”(lines 1259-1278) who “looks like a woman”(line 1351) and to have a large full figure, “gluttonous rounds”(line 1498) Where

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