1 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2023
    1. II 115Went he forth to find at fall of night that haughty house, and heed wherever the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest had gone. Found within it the atheling band asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow, 120of human hardship. Unhallowed wight, grim and greedy, he grasped betimes, wrathful, reckless, from resting-places, thirty[1] of the thanes, and thence he rushed fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward, 125laden with slaughter, his lair to seek. Then at the dawning, as day was breaking, the might of Grendel to men was known; then after wassail was wail uplifted, loud moan in the morn. The mighty chief, 130atheling excellent, unblithe sat, labored in woe for the loss of his thanes, when once had been traced the trail of the fiend, spirit accurst: too cruel that sorrow, too long, too loathsome.[2] Not late the respite; 135with night returning, anew began ruthless murder; he recked no whit, firm in his guilt, of the feud and crime. They were easy to find who elsewhere sought in room remote their rest at night, 140bed in the bowers,[3] when that bale was shown, was seen in sooth, with surest token,— the hall-thane’s[4] hate. Such held themselves far and fast who the fiend outran! Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill 145one against all; until empty stood that lordly building, and long it bode so. Twelve years’ tide the trouble he bore, sovran of Scyldings, sorrows in plenty, boundless cares. There came unhidden 150tidings true to the tribes of men, in sorrowful songs,[5] how ceaselessly Grendel harassed Hrothgar, what hate he bore him, what murder and massacre, many a year, feud unfading,—refused consent 155to deal with any of Daneland’s earls, make pact of peace, or compound for gold: still less did the wise men ween to get great fee for the feud from his fiendish hands.[6] But the evil one ambushed old and young, 160death-shadow dark, and dogged them still, lured, and lurked in the livelong night of misty moorlands: men may say not where the haunts of these Hell-Runes[7] be. Such heaping of horrors the hater of men, 165lonely roamer, wrought unceasing, harassings heavy. O’er Heorot he lorded, gold-bright hall, in gloomy nights; and ne’er could the prince[8] approach his throne, —’twas judgment of God,—or have joy in his hall. 170Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings’-friend, heart-rending misery. Many nobles sat assembled, and searched out counsel how it were best for bold-hearted men against harassing terror to try their hand. 175Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes altar-offerings, asked with words[9] that the slayer-of-souls[10] would succor give them for the pain of their people. Their practice this, their heathen hope; ’twas Hell they thought of 180in mood of their mind. Almighty they knew not, Doomsman of Deeds[11] and dreadful Lord, nor Heaven’s-Helmet heeded they ever, Wielder-of-Wonder.—Woe for that man who in harm and hatred hales his soul 185to fiery embraces;—nor favor nor change awaits he ever. But well for him that after death-day may draw to his Lord, and friendship find in the Father’s arms!

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      Title: Gender Roles and Heroic Constructs in Beowulf: Chapter II

      In chapter 2 the exploration of gender roles and the construction of the hero within the text continues.

      The opening lines reveal the aftermath of Grendel's ruthless attacks on the Ring-Danes. The phrase "that haughty house" refers to Heorot, the magnificent mead-hall. The contrast between the evil Grendel and the unsuspecting, slumbering atheling band, predominantly consisting of men, highlights the vulnerability of the male heroes in the face of a monstrous threat. This portrayal challenges traditional gender expectations, where men are typically depicted as protectors and warriors.

      As the poem progresses, it becomes evident that Grendel's reign of terror specifically targets male warriors, emphasizing the disruption of gender roles and the erosion of male heroism. The repetition of terms such as "than," "atheling," and "thanes" underscores the predominantly male victims of Grendel's attacks, while women remain largely absent from the narrative. This absence suggests a limited role for women in the heroic context of the poem, reinforcing traditional gender roles that associate heroism primarily with men.

      The linguistic value this chapter is shown through its descriptive language and imagery. The use of alliteration, rhythm, and vivid metaphors contributes to the poem's aesthetic appeal and oral performance. The repetition of sounds and words, such as "ruthless murder" and "lured and lurked," adds emphasis and evokes a sense of foreboding, heightening the emotional impact of the narrative.

      It's significant to also note that the translator/editor/scribe of the time had, at least partially, their opinion in the text. And the socio-cultural context on the representation of gender roles in the text. The dominance of a patriarchal mindset during the translation, gathering, and manipulation of the text might have influenced the portrayal of gender dynamics, potentially perpetuating or reinforcing gender biases prevalent at the time.

      Comparatively, analyzing the representation of gender roles in multiple versions of Beowulf would provide a deeper understanding of the variations and nuances present in different translations and editions. It is essential to examine the translator's choices, the cultural and historical context in which the translation was produced, and the potential influence of contemporary gender politics on the interpretation and presentation of the text. Gender roles can be a complicated and complex topic, especially when it is in context of older societies and we don't know their expectations and norms fully as we know our own.

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