Grendel is descended from Cain, but also from his mother.
Dark female other, feminine
Beowulf –women are visible tokens of male alliances
while the female's gender is seen as accidental, excessive, and
. As "little bears," they acted out the role of untamed animals that eventually would be
domesticated through marriage.
Women could attend public speeches and visit certain sanctuaries, such as those of Artemis at
Brauron and the Sanctuary of the Nymph at the foot of the Akropolis. However, during any
occasion outside of the house, a young woman was expected to be inconspicuous and to be
covered around the head to obscure most of her face and neck.
The culmination of a young woman's socialization was her marriage (
), which usually took
place at the age of fourteen or fifteen. Marriage did not require a young bride's consent, as she
was simply passed from the protection of her father to that of her husband. A young woman in
Classical Athens lacked any rights of citizenship, and could only be described as the wife of an
Athenian citizen. However, a bride brought to her marriage a dowry that was not available for the
husband to spend. In fact, on the rare occasion that the marriage failed, the dowry was returned
to the wife's father. The consummation of marriage signaled the end of a young woman's status
, or young maiden, as she was then classified as a
, or bride, until the birth of
her first child, when she became a
, or woman. The life expectancy of the average woman
was about forty years old
espite the extreme social restraint on women in classical antiquity, it is interesting that they had a number of powerful female goddesses of
e type that were never available to Christian women. Demeter was able to retrieve her daughter Persephone, Artemis could send a fatal
ow, and Athena had the ability to resist marriage and motherhood, and to provide advice to respected Greek heroes. Aphrodite, Hera,
estia, and Hekate were also powerful goddesses, intensely honored and greatly admired by women and men alike.
Rather than using words or marriage to exert influence, they
use physical strength and weapons.
Through my own
familiarity with the text I am inclined to agree with those
scholars who view Grendel's mother as law abiding, if not fully
accepted by society, in her search for justice.