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A Comparative Study of Women as found in Korean and English Literatures

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Cook, Junghyo

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서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
영학논집, Vol.3, pp. 35-50
The Iliadimmotal epicOld English epic women
Loss of Helen leads the Greeks to the immortal war. Loss of Briseis
starts the immortal epic. Even the divine being who kindles the
whole affair from above is a small-minded female god whose pastime
it is to lead or mislead the amorous passion of helpless mortals. Indeed
without women the great epic of The Iliad could not have developed
even in its incipient form.
Beowulf is different. It can very well be retold in an all-male story.
Excluding the few female characters from the narrative would not
have presented a critical problem. The absence of Wealtheow's hospitable
hostessship, for instance, would not have seriously abated Beowulf's
superhuman muscular strength or heroic readiness to fight;
while his funeral would have still been a funeral without the abrupt
reference to an unidentified woman's wailing woe.
Thus in the only full-length Old English epic women are kept peripheral.
With all their broad visibility they do not, like the Homeric
women, enter the core of the events.
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