What Are the Characteristics of Grendel’s Mother in Beowulf?

In the poem “Beowulf,” Grendel’s mother is described as a female monster and sea hag. She generally lacks humanity, but she does seek revenge for her son’s death, which can be viewed as a distinctly human quality.

The role of Grendel’s mother is a much-debated topic in scholarly circles. Some academics argue that she is described as a wretch or monster. However, others believe that she is not described as a monster in the old English text: instead she is a female warrior, not unlike Beowulf himself.

While Grendel’s mother occupies an ambivalent place within the text, her appearance is also the subject of some debate. In many modern translations, she is given demonic characteristics. She is given claws, hooks and other monstrous traits. In the original Anglo-Saxon work, her appearance is given few lines of description.