Gæst, gender, and kin in Beowulf: Consumption of the Boundaries
The Heroic Age Issue 5 Summer/Autumn 2001
Grendel’s Mother’s masculinity is connected with the textual anxiety over kinslaughter in Beowulf. Grendel’s Mother enacts the physical threat between hosts and guests, which itself recalls the ever present violence between men and the closest reflections of themselves, their kin. Gæst (host, guest), literally embodies the social relationship of consumption at both the metaphorical and physical levels; the term suggests more fluidity in the threat Grendel’s mother poses to Beowulf than the purely oppositional one of monster, or even the psychological one of archaic feminine annihilation.