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The suppressed goddess of Beowulf : A feminist reading of Grendel’s mother as a representation of Norse goddess Gefion in a changing world order
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (professional degree), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study has been to investigate in feminist terms whether or not the character Grendel’s mother symbolizes early matrilineal tribes in the form of the Norse goddess Gefion, also claimed to be the Earth goddess. The claim has been brought forward in an article by Frank Battaglia on the grounds that the chthonic deity is mentioned on several occasions in Beowulf. However, Grendel’s mother’s possible connection to the goddess has not been treated extensively in a feminist context, despite the apparent link between feminism and matrilineal tribes in a patriarchal hierarchy. The modern translations of her character as a monster stand in stark contrast to the original manuscript where she is depicted as an aglӕcwif, “female warrior”. The subject has given rise to a number of feminist researches on the theme of the so called “woman-as-monster” stereotype. These argue that Grendel’s mother has fallen victim to enforced marginalization due to etymological faults as well as sexist stereotypes in Anglo-Saxon literary culture. On the background of Moi’s definition of a woman and Kristeva’s concept of the abject, results demonstrate that Grendel’s mother may very well symbolize the female Other in a new social order, embodied or represented as the Earth goddess.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 27
Keywords [en]
Literary criticism, Beowulf, Grendel’s mother, Gefion, Earth goddess, monsters, abjection, feminism, the definition of a woman.
National Category
General Literature Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-82020OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-82020DiVA, id: diva2:1305668
Subject / course
English
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Examiners
Available from: 2019-04-25 Created: 2019-04-17 Last updated: 2019-04-25Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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Output format
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