A Comparative Analysis of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and How Their Differences Reflect the Changing Views of English Society
Throughout history and even continuing up through today, society has been infatuated with the concept of heroism, specifically with the idea of what truly defines a hero. One look at a list of upcoming movies will reveal as much, full of films featuring protagonists that range from warriors to just regular people who stay true to themselves while being faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers. Since the beginnings of English literature, there have been stories written about the ideal hero. The earliest of these stories, Beowulf, was composed by an unknown author somewhere around the year 700. (“Beowulf,” New World Encyclopedia). Another well-known English heroic story is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written approximately 700 years later in 1400 (“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” Luminarium). While these two stories are both part of the same vast collection of English heroic literature, they differ greatly in the way that each goes about depicting the ideal hero. This ideological shift is representative of the sweeping transformations that England underwent between the Early and Late Middle Ages.
When analyzing any piece of literature, it is important to reflect on the time period in which it was written in order to gain better insight into what the work says about the society from which it came. In the case of Beowulf, this epic poem was