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.