Middle English Characterization
Characterization is profound in early history as it not only makes a story interesting, but also emulates the values and cultures of the period. Unknowingly, many authors conceive characters with principles from the generation in which they correspond. In the poems, “Beowulf,” translated by Burton Raffel, and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” translated by John Gardner, the dissection of the main characters led to the discovery of the foundations of Middle English history. Keeping this in mind, there are many different techniques to display these morals as “Beowulf” was made to create an exemplary figure, while “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” enlightened others on how not to act. With that, within these two alliterative texts, the depiction of the characters Beowulf and Sir Gawain are different through the core ideas of faith, chivalry, and motives. The main characters of these poems illustrate the idea of faith differently by putting their trust into separate things. Starting with the character Beowulf, a heroic man, he puts his faith into two people: God and himself. Beowulf trusts that God is in control and if something happens, it is for a reason. Right before his battle, Grendel exclaimed, “God must decide / Who will be given to death’s cold grip” (Raffel 174-175). He understands the severity of the events but is willing to leave it in the hands of his creator especially if it is against a weaker, evil being. This holds true as in
The poem Beowulf presents the transformation of Beowulf from a brave warrior to an honorable King. The evolution of Beowulf shows how he fulfills his obligations to the warrior’s heroic code and then transcends into a King who loyally protects his Kingdom. Beowulf’s transformation is shown through a progression of three increasingly more difficult conflicts he must overcome- first with Grendel, then Grendel’s mother and finally against the mighty dragon. These three events are seen "as the three agons in the hero 's life"(Chickering 64). Through these adverse events Beowulf will change from brave young warrior to noble King. This paper will examine the manifestation of heroism in the poem
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
In the epic poems of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf, the role of heroes is significant. However, the epic poems differ drastically on these topics. The epic poems of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf share many things yet differ in the qualities of the heroes; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight defines heroism as imperfect, mortal and humble, as delineated by the actions of Sir Gawain at the Green Chapel, while Beowulf defines heroism as being “larger-than-life” and proud, as shown by Beowulf’s encounter with Unferth.
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.
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.
Beowulf and Sir Gawain and The Green Knight are British mythological stories whose authors are unknown. The stories paint the picture of brave and selfless heroes who put the lives of their fellow men before their own. Though the stories differ in their narration, they are built on the same ideas and principles. This essay compares and contrasts the various themes in these two stories and their development. The issues discussed are the role of women, strength and courage and afterlife.
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.
While both the characters Beowulf and Sir Gawain are similar in the fact that they are both heroes, each story uses different ways to tell their tale. From going on an adventure, to fighting the enemy, to trying and save a kingdom, both stories contain the good versus bad elements that makes the telling of two brave heroes. One way that both characters are similar is the fact that they both go on an adventure, while showing acts of bravery and selflessness. Both characters jumped at a chance to risk their lives to save their king and earn their honor and respect. However, while both characters are considered heroes, each character focuses on different values. Despite the minor differences each character has from one another, both characters
Story-telling is a pillar of human existence. Regardless of time, this methodical activity of the human race is what has enabled our species to understand the world around us. It is interesting to note in story-telling, an activity which is bound to our very existence, what themes, archetypes, and narratives have stood the test of time. Without a doubt, the mind subconsciously is drawn to the character build of the hero, a figure that most every story loses meaning without. While the archetypal hero has survived and often defined the act of story-telling, this is not to say that the characteristics of a hero and the way that the hero is portrayed have not changed. An unrivaled example of the similarities, differences, and progression of the heroic figure through the ages are found in Beowulf and Sir Gawain. While these tales of glory differ in age by roughly 700 years, they are similar in their pursuit of bravery, they differ in their ability to live up to their heroic codes, and when compared chronologically, Gawain is clearly a progression of the English heroic figure because of his dynamic character design and fallible nature.
The key components of each of these works are quite similar. In both stories, the audience meets a centralized heroic figure who are incredibly endowed with all of the physical and mental acumen necessary to accomplish any task of their choosing. They both embark on epic adventures and face increasingly more difficult challenges as the story progresses. Finally, these two tales fundamentally delves into the constant, agonizing dispute between the just and the unjust. By correlating and diverging these two pieces of literary gems, the reader can come to a stronger understanding of the importance of these subjects as enduring themes in literature throughout the ages. Beowulf and Sir Gawain were the gold standards in medieval British literature as far as what a real hero is to be portrayed as. In addition to reading two phenomenal tales, the reader can grasp a fuller understanding by comparing and contrasting the styles and themes that endured from those times. Their respective authors present Beowulf and Sir Gawain as ideal character types whose behavior should be emulated to advance society. Even, and especially, their minor flaws teach valuable lessons. These heroes must always be alert to potential threats caused by evil forces who wish to do them harm and create social
As kids we grow up watching superhero movies and books that teach us moral lessons for when we grow up and participate in society. Although we do not know it at the time, these stories help to put cultural beliefs and lessons in our minds so we grow up to follow these sets of standards. This is not a recent phenomenon, however, as it has been happening for centuries on end. For example, during the Anglo-Saxon Period and the Late Middle Ages, there were stories that portrayed their societal beliefs and morals through the same Monomythic framework that even our modern stories possess, as suggested by Joseph Campbell in his monumental work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Such narrative poems as Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight represent what the Anglo-Saxons and the Middle English saw as both acceptable and non-acceptable demeanor. Both works possess the same values and beliefs while others, distinctly oppose, something that can be clearly observed through the careful archetypal study of the heroes of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
The stories of Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales are two that have been compared for centuries. Based in two different time periods, both novels describe religion, loyalty, and distinguish social classes through characters. In the novel Beowulf, the character Beowulf is known as the “hero of all heroes,” strong, courageous, and a warrior who is willing to risk his life for his ideals. In The Canterbury Tales, there are twenty-four tales describing characters from a knight to a monk’s tale. As the stories are written in two different time periods with different themes and voices, they can be compared in many ways. Both novels describe religion through their warriors, Beowulf and the Knight from The Canterbury Tales.
Throughout the history of fictional writing, cultural values of certain time periods have been expressed and implemented through the depiction of the heroes’ experiences on their journeys and the knowledge they gain by the quest’s end. For example, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a chivalric romance written in the Late Middle Ages, Gawain epitomizes a knight with the characteristics that knights from the Late Middle Ages were expected to possess according to the requirements outlined in the rules of chivalry, such as honor and valor. Likewise, Beowulf, the hero of the folk epic Beowulf, embodies the qualities of an exemplary hero as well as king. Therefore, in both stories, the reader encounters a heroic character that is presented with traits that Anglo-Saxons and the Middle English valued in their culture through their stories’ monomyths, a concept of similar and structural sequences that can be applied to many stories, created by Joseph Campbell. Some of these values are carried from the Early to Late Middle Ages and can be seen through the works of both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf.
The epic tale of Beowulf was written sometime after his death. In other words, a long time ago during the Anglo-Saxon period. Today, directors in Hollywood did not keep from creating their own rendition of this epic poem As a result, plenty of modern interpretations of Beowulf, such as Sturla Gunnarsson’s Beowulf and Grendel, have been released. Naturally, the cultural values that might be reflected in modern Beowulf renditions will demonstrate a clash with those of the original fifth century Beowulf literature. One reason for this is that in the modern age we value characters with profound characteristics, characters that change due to the challenges they experience; characters that we as the audience can attach to. Flat characters like those of the original Beowulf text are difficult to empathize with since they are not realistic enough for our standards. Due to these differences in culture and values, the Beowulf and Grendel from the original Beowulf text possess definite contrasts when compared with their Beowulf and Grendel counterparts.