An Analysis Of The Role Of Queen In Beowulf And Grendel
In both texts, Beowulf and Grendel, the main purpose of the
Queens are to serve the courts as "weavers of peace". In
Grendel however, Queen Wealhtheow is described in much
greater detail and serves a further purpose. The reader
gains insight to a part in 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 with her
arrival because she was an essential part in keeping peace,
as the "weaver of peace", in 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 Hygd's intelligence. Queen Hygd was
unlike Wealhtheow in the way in which she did not bear many
gifts. Hygd was more concerned about the future of the
people of her kingdom succeeding Hygelac's death than
Wealhtheow. Hygd offered Beowulf the kingdom because she
believed it was in the best interest of the people she
loved. 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
Queen Wealhtheow put up an excellent disguise when hiding
the pain she experienced from being forced to be Hrothgar's
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 lord".
Although Wealhtheow has much resentment towards serving the
Danes, she puts all that aside her and fulfilled her duties
as an praiseworthy queen. In " Grendel" it told how she
came between drunken men in the mead hall, as if she was
their mother. Her intervention reminded them of their
responsibilities toward the kingdom. Her presence "brought
light and warmth, men began talking, joking and laughing,
both Danes and Geats together"(Grendel, p.163). She created
a positive feeling throughout the kingdom. In her presence
the Shaper vocalized on a positive note about comfort and
joy. Wealhtheow gave Beowulf advice about proper etiquette
, how to speak to the Geats with "mild words". She advised
him to make sure he shared his gifts. After all that was a
rule by which she lived. Before Beowulf left the Danes,
Queen Wealhtheow gave Beowulf a precious collar , the
Brosing necklace, in appreciation for his duty. She gave
him the gifts so that he could make known who he was, and
to be proud of his accomplishments. She wished him the best
of luck and asked him to take care of her sons.
There was much focus on Queen Wealhtheow's outer beauty in
the novel "Grendel". It went into much further detail than
in the poem, Beowulf. From Wealhtheows entrance into the
novel, the reader was told in great detail of her physical
beauty. " Beowulf" primarily focused on her inner beauty.
She was described as "having hair red as fire, as soft as
the ruddy sheen on dragons gold. Her face was gentle,
mysteriously calm" (Grendel p.100). This combination made
her a very desirable woman. So desirable that Unferth was
attracted to her. Unferth flirted with Wealhtheow often in
"Grendel". When she would offer him the mead he would
glance at her and look down and smile. Unferth felt
embarrassment after he made a comment about men killing
their brothers while they were drunk. Few people in Heorot
found the comment humorous, the queen was caught off guard.
He respected the queen, as did every one throughout the
kingdom. He was humiliated at what he had said. He felt
regret and ridicule by his mistake and glanced at the queen
without looking away. Being the kind person that she was
she forgave him, and he was put at ease.
The lust for Wealhtheow did not stop with Unferth. Perhaps
the most significant difference in the two texts is that in
Grendel, the monster, was attracted to Wealhtheow. There is
no suggestion in Beowulf that Grendel posses any feelings
toward the humans. This desire for Wealhtheow gives the
reader better insight into Grendels character. Up until
this point the reader was given no hint that Grendel
possessed anything except hatred toward the human race.
Grendel was touched the first time he saw Wealhtheow, he
was struck by her innocence and beauty. He wanted to sob at
the sight of her; the reader had never been introduced to
this sensitive side of the monster. The reader wasn't the
only one who had a problem understanding Grendels feelings,
Grendel couldn't understand them either. He was "tortured
by the red of her hair and the set of her chin and the
white of her shoulders". There is definitely a sexual
overtone in Grendels desire for Wealththeow. Upon his
attack of her he ripped her out of bed by her feet as if he
was going to split her in half. He wanted to kill her but
he was torn by his feeling for her; all the pain he wanted
to inflict was sexual. He wanted to "cook the ugly hole
between her legs, and squeeze out her feces with his
fists". His motive for killing her was justified by wanting
to teach the Danes reality, but he refrained because it
would be "pointless pleasure". Grendel was clearly unhappy
about his desire for Wealtheow, and was disconcerted. He
contemplated killing her because he wanted to get rid of
these feelings, instead he decided to focus on the
undesirable side Wealhtheow, "her unqueenly shrieks" and
"the ugliness between her legs(the bright tears of blood)."
 Although the two texts are fundamentally the same, there
is a significant difference in how Queen Wealhtheow is
portrayed. In the novel Grendel, the reader is given not
only further insight to the beauty and charm of Wealhtheow,
but the sensitivity and needs of Grendel. Both texts allow
the reader to gain a further understanding to the position
of women in the Anglo-Saxon society by means of the
development of the characters, Queen Wealhtheow and Queen


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