Grendles Mōdor: From Monster to Human

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Grendles Mōdor: From Monster to Human

Type: Bachelor thesis
Title: Grendles Mōdor: From Monster to Human
Author: Witkam, Jolene Priscilla
Issue Date: 2017-06-30
Keywords: Beowulf
Grendel's mother
Old English
Monster studies
Id, ego, superego
Old English Literature
Abstract: Despite the lack of a physical description on the poet’s part, Grendel’s mother is more often than not depicted as a monstrosity. Yet her monstrous nature is the topic of much scholarly debate (e.g., Carlson 1967; Kiernan 1984). Generally, scholars group the mother together with her son Grendel and the dragon, and paint her as a monstrous being consumed by evil intent. However, this traditional view has recently been called into question. Hennequin (2008), for instance, reads Grendel’s mother as a human female fighter, disregarding the ‘monster tradition’ of earlier scholars. The aim of the current study is to look closely at arguments both for and against the humanity of Grendel’s mother, before presenting its own critical view on this subject to strengthen the case that she should not be read as a monster but, indeed, as a human. Analysing the poem through a psychoanalytical lens and using Freud’s theory of the id, the ego and the superego shows that the text of Beowulf constructs the female antagonist as a human rather than a monster. Debating this ‘monster tradition’ and accepting Grendel’s mother as human will pave the way for new explorations of Beowulf and its characters, medieval conventions of ‘otherness’ and femininity.
Supervisor: Porck, M.H.
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Engelse Taal en Cultuur (Bachelor)
ECTS Credits: 10

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