Role of Queen in Beowulf & Grendel



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

circumezces 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 lord".



Although Wealhtheow has much resentment towards serving the

Danes, she puts all that beside her and fulfilled her duties as an

praiseworthy queen.