Heroism In Beowulf And Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Decent Essays
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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