Long-form poems Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight stem from two distinct time periods containing distinguished cultures, values, and ideologies. The Anglo-Saxon age, where Beowulf takes place, was a melting pot of Christian and pagan values. Epic battles, gruesome challenges, ideas of fate and destiny, and personal pride defined their heroism. Centuries later, in the Age of Chivalry, heroes possessed humility, respect, honesty, and integrity. Beowulf and Sir Gawain represent their cultures’ ideals respectively. Beowulf’s masculine demeanour and physical prowess, contrasted with Sir Gawain’s nuanced mental self consciousness, demonstrate an incoherent, often polarizing depiction of Old English heroism, in which neither protagonist fully possesses the values of an ideal hero. In a setting where war runs rampant, and danger lurks at all times, men and women find refuge in characters like Beowulf, who represent safety and strength. Beowulf embodies their definition of a hero: unmatchable physical excellence, a keen eye, prompt battle readiness, and loyal devotion to his word. Many boast of his accomplishments, but none more than Beowulf himself: “Well friend Unferth, you have had your say / about Breca and me. But it was mostly beer / that was doing the talking. The truth is this: / when the going was heavy in those waves, / I was the strongest swimmer of all” (Beowulf 530-534). Based on Beowulf’s characterization, his claim to the title “strongest swimmer”
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Since the beginning of society, bravery has been innate in everyone. From David’s fight with Goliath, to modern day’s stand against prejudice, people continue to attack in tough positions. However, cowardice is ingrained in everyone as well. People are constantly avoiding danger―physical and internal, such as Peter’s denial of Jesus and dodging responsibility. Consequently, there is a fine line between bravery and cowardice. Granted, when is the turning point where self preservation becomes a greater priority than helping others? In the epic poem, Beowulf, and the medieval romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf and Sir Gawain similarly show humanity’s inclination to act brave when situations become difficult, until their lives are put at risk―revealing everyone's inner cowardice.
Superman, Spiderman, and Batman are heroes! They possess the two traits that are needed in western civilization to be considered a hero: wisdom and fortitude. These modern heroes have wisdom and fortitude. Did Beowulf possess these traits? Beowulf shows he is a hero through both his wisdom and fortitude throughout his adventures. Beowulf is a great hero because he possesses both wisdom and fortitude.
Heroes come in many forms. The construction of "the heroic" has taken many forms, yet traits such as: courage, honor, and loyalty, reappear as themes throughout the "hero" personality. The characters of Beowulf and Sir Gawain each represent a version of a hero, yet each comes across quite differently in their story. A hero can be said to truly win if he remains constant to his noble values when put in any situation that crosses his way. When measured by that criterion, Sir Gawain stands out above Beowulf as a true hero, due to his command of both personal and spiritual power through the use of thought, as well as valiant deeds.
A hero is one who is not only strong, but one who uses his strength to uphold others. A hero is humble, philanthropic, magnanimous and selfless, a humanitarian at best. In the unprecedented epic Beowulf, the tale’s namesake exemplifies every characteristic befitting an Anglo-Saxon hero. He is honest, loyal, and courageous. He portrays these characteristics in the battle against Grendel, the affray with Grendel’s mother, and the fight against the dragon that inevitably ended his life.
In Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight there are two heroes that help the present day reader gain insight into what the hero of the Middle Ages would have held as ideals and necessary triumphs. Beowulf and Sir Gawain each fill a different role within their unique societies. Beowulf is a leader and a savior in times of need, willing to go to any length to help another group of people as well as his own kingdom. Sir Gawain is also willing to rise during moments of trouble within his court but lacks the altruism that is inherent in Beowulf's leadership. Although there are many pursuable comparisons within the two tales, the most apparent between the two heroes are that of faith, the men who encouraged them, bravery and the
A hero is someone who is idealized for his courage and noble qualities. Beowulf and Sir Gawain can certainly be called heroes. They both have many qualities that are expected of heroic knights and warriors. They are both brave, gallant, and skilled men, but are they the perfect heroes their people believe them to be? While they are portrayed as perfect heroes and they possess many heroic qualities, Beowulf and Sir Gawain are far from perfect.
As Thomas Paine once said, “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection”. Through most recent generations, the word “heroic” is thrown around to a certain extent. At one time, heroes were naturally born into key figures, glorified through fame. Beowulf's’ nobility provides his key success towards being born into a hero. As for Oedipus, he had also been born into aristocracy by his father's legacy. Today’s concept of heroism is a concern for people in need—an involvement to defend a moral cause, the possibility of personal risk, done without the expectation of a reward. [In the fictional myths of both Oedipus the King and Beowulf, eccentric heroes prove their personal necessities in characterizing the importance of a culture; However, the current society’s tragic hero is one that often combats through the fear of bravery and the greater good of others.]
According to Tom Hanks, a hero is “somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown.” A hero is someone who puts another’s needs before themselves, is strong, and courageous. Sir Gawain and Beowulf are epic heroes who embody these ideals. Sir Gawain is part of King Arthur’s court, and he is the sole knight who bravely accepts the Green Knight’s challenge in order to protect his king. On the contrary, Beowulf is a warrior and a king. He is constantly battling monsters for the glory and fame. Sir Gawain is more honorable, because he has superior beliefs, motivations, and is more courageous.
The world as it is depicted in Beowulf is home to many aspects of society that are at odds with behaviors acceptable in modern culture, but perhaps shares a startling number of similarities as well. As part of the Anglo-Saxon society, the concept of loyalty is imbued into the seams of the civilization, and allegiance can be found split between lords and kin. Tales concerning themselves with eternal human problems are not few and far between in Beowulf—given that it is an epic poem—and antithesis governs the flow of the narrative. In the midst of the battles raging between evil and good, heroes and villains, mourning and glory, and victory and defeat, death is omnipresent, constantly looming and prompting men to drift towards their swords. This is a society in which chances for a clean slate—a tabula rasa—are minimal, and every action is chiseled in stone, forever etched into eternity. During a time period when very little is certain, the only guarantee of being remembered, of having your name go down stamped with your identity, is through heroism and action. Boasting is a means through which one can build a reputation for himself, planting his name into his opponents’ heads and setting a foundation for success. It remains a skill to be used prudently, though, as overstating and misrepresenting one’s abilities has the great potential to yield adverse repercussions.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf share several similar qualities. Each story suggests that honor, truth, and heroism are the most important a person can exhibit, though in each tale these are manifested in different ways. Both characters, in attempts to keep these values, make mistakes that endanger their lives.
Although Gawain and Beowulf share many similarities, their characters are almost complete opposites. Both aim for some sort of fame, one more than the other; differing in the way they attempt to achieve this success. Gawain remains true and looks to humility to guide him, whereas Beowulf is very prideful and selfish, loving nothing more than boasting about his virtues. Regardless, both go through tremendous changes throughout their quests, dealing with repercussions, and many challenging obstacles along the way.
In the worlds of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the journeys of two heroes, Beowulf and Sir Gawain, are depicted through the form of poems. The two stories have become two of the most important works of literature in the English history. In the two poems, both Beowulf and Sir Gawain face great challenges in their journeys as heroes. Beowulf embarks on a quest to defeat Grendel and his mother while Sir Gawain faces many difficulties on his search for the Green Knight. Although the main characters in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight exhibit many of the same characteristics, the two poems have stylistic differences and differ in societal values.
A hero, what is a hero? Close your eyes and imagine what a hero is. Is it a man or a woman? Are they tall or short? Do they have dark or light hair? Are they young or old? Now take this hero you have imagined and give him or her traits. What would they be? Is he or she courageous or adventurous? Are they physically strong or mentally strong, or both? A hero is defined in 3 ways; selflessness, humbleness, and bravery.
In Arthurian romances, the knight Gawain fulfills a central role as a member of the legendary Round Table. Alone or accompanied by other chivalrous knights, Gawain traverses the land of Logres, searching for adventures and achieving great feats of heroism. To those he encounters on his quests, Gawain often represents the epitome of chivalry and knightly valor. However, Gawain’s actual characterization is not constant in every tale where he is present. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chretien de Troye’s Perceval, and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, Gawain’s character vacillates from being the paragon of chivalry to the antithesis of heroism, and these characterizations serve as a foil to the figures of