Beowulf And Sir Gawain: A Comparison Of Two Heroes

1535 words - 6 pages

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 adversaries they both faced.

Although Beowulf has themes of both Christianity and Paganism within the tale, Beowulf has a Christian faith that he often relies upon during his moments of combat. This juxtaposition of Christian faith within Beowulf and the ancestry and demonic characteristics between Grendel and his mother seem to be an intrinsic part of the fight that Beowulf has with each of them. Before the fight with Grendel it is said that Beowulf will win because "Almighty God rules over mankind and always has" suggesting that although Beowulf has the "strength of thirty" it is God rather than Beowulf's strength that will earn a victory over Grendel (46, 40). After Beowulf defeats Grendel's mother it is again attributed to divine strength. When Beowulf is knocked down and was about to be killed by the maternal avenger it is believed that "holy God decided the victory. It was easy for the Lord, the Ruler of Heaven, to redress the balance once Beowulf got back up on his feet" (66). The idea of God having control over one's mortality is also prevalent within Beowulf, leading the present day reader to surmise that common belief at the time was that God predestined death. Beowulf affirms this belief when someone got close to the dragon but didn't die; saying "So may a man not marked by fate easily escape exile and woe by the grace of God" (81). This idea of fate is carried through as Beowulf fights the dragon and dies. "That final day was the first time when Beowulf fought and fate denied him glory in battle" again attributing all his previous successes and his ultimate collapse to the power of God.

Faith is also a prominent figure within Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Gawain's faith in God is shown when he is regularly praying to God for protection and forgiveness before his trip or his challenge with the Green Knight. Sir Gawain is perpetually referencing to God, saying, "as God allows", "by the Lord's decree", and "in God's own name" to give the impression that he truly relies on God for guidance and strength (199-201). Gawain starts to reference to God much more the closer he gets to his face-off with the Green Knight. Finally turning over his fate to God, Gawain prays that "I shall not...

Find Another Essay On Beowulf and Sir Gawain: a Comparison of Two Heroes

Heroism displayed in the epic novel of BEOWULF and Sir Gawain. This essay compares and contrasts these two characters and defines what makes a true hero.

1116 words - 4 pages example of an epic hero. The hero posses's super-human strength, determination and above all, courage. These traits are not necessarily what composes a hero in today's society. Some perceive Martin Luther King as a hero, although he did not possess the physical strength of Beowulf, he did posses a mental strength, a strength that drives someone to complete his or her task no matter what obstacles are thrown in their direction. Today the heroes that

A Comparison of Religion in Sir Gawain and Green Knight and Othello

1653 words - 7 pages Role of Religion in Sir Gawain and Othello      Respect for religion and government is an important part of any country, but what happens to a country when these values begin to change?  England was beginning to go through this change in 1603 when Othello was written by William Shakespeare.  Comparing the religious themes and heroes of Othello to the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which was written during the Middle English era

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf

476 words - 2 pages epic entitled, Beowulf, is also portrayed as a “hero.” But Beowulf’s heroism factor does not even compare to Sir Gawain’s. The difference between Beowulf and Sir Gawain, is that Sir Gawain is a real hero, and Beowulf just thinks he is.      The two heroes can be compared in many ways. A major comparison would be their physical characteristics. Beowulf is “mighty, the strongest man ever.” Sir Gawain is “honorable, a brave and true knight

Comparing the Role of Women in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1322 words - 5 pages Men exemplify heroic qualities in both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, however, women are depicted differently in the two stories. In Beowulf, women are not necessary to the epic, where as in Green Knight, women not only play a vital role in the plot, but they also directly control the situations that arise. Men are acknowledged for their heroic achievement in both stories, while the women's importance in each story differ

Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and the Knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale

1780 words - 7 pages of Christian values and beliefs as opposed to previous pagan ideals; I realized the heroes of each have a few similarities and differences between them despite their differences in origin. All three stories have a male hero who is the focal point of the story and gains worldly knowledge of how to be a true hero: Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and the Knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale all fit into this description. Beowulf comes from a foreign land to

Heroes and Sidekicks: Comparison between Beowulf and Gilgamesh

817 words - 3 pages performing civic justice for the people who look up to them. Those three criteria's determine whether a sidekick is beneficial for heroes like Gilgamesh and Beowulf.Success in quests can often determine a hero's status in a society. In the Gilgamesh story, both Gilgamesh and Enkidu embark on a journey to kill Humbaba, the guardian of the Cedar forest that is forbidden to mortals. Together, the duo manages to successfully complete the quest as both provide

Essay Comparing the Role Models in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

2431 words - 10 pages Role Models in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Excellence has always been a virtue revered by society. Writers throughout the ages have tried to capture the essence of excellence in their works, often in the form of a title character, who is the embodiment of perfection, encapsulating all the ideal traits necessary for one to be considered an excellent member of society. However, the standards for excellence are not

Comparison of Beowulf and Grendel from the two stories beowulf and grendel.

953 words - 4 pages In the novels Beowulf, translated by Benton Raffel and Grendel by John Gardner, there is a character that is vividly portrayed. This character is the monster Grendel, a non-human being portrayed in two separate ways. The Anglo-Saxon's view Grendel as evil; there's no arguing that point. However, when the reader sees the story portrayed through Grendel's perspective he starts to empathize with Grendel rather than fear him. In the beginning of

This essay is based on heroism found in the epic poems "beowulf" and "Sir Gawain and the "Green Knight"

1186 words - 5 pages In "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and "Beowulf," we encounter single heroic men, under a great king on an adventurous quest for recognition, and honor. Hard to imagine that though so much alike, they differ in category. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," contains very similar aspects of an epic poem, which creates vast similarities between sir Gawain and Beowulf. Both of the famous writings entwine lineage, the warrior code, and mysticism to

Comparison/Contrast Analysis Essay on two Renassance poets: Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh.

726 words - 3 pages The renewed interest in classical learning is the "rebirth," or widely known as the Renaissance. It seemed as if it was a renewal of the human spirit because of the blooming curiosity and creativity. The forms of literature being made were about beautiful things, and they were daring, and passionate. Poets who wrote work of this sort were by no means far and few between, there were many, but two examples are Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter

A Comparison of Oedipus and Beowulf

874 words - 3 pages The characters Oedipus and Beowulf represent two different types of heroes. Oedipus is a tragic hero and characterized by its standards. He was an influential man of stature who had a tragic flaw. While he contributed to his own downfall, Oedipus was not entirely responsible for it. He also learned a lesson from his mistakes which ultimately creates a catharsis in the reading audience. Beowulf, on the other hand, is characterized by

Similar Essays

Epic Heroes: Sir Gawain And Beowulf

1733 words - 7 pages During the Middle Ages, both “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” were epic stories that were chanted aloud to the public. Each story told about epic heroes who went on a long journey to face or conqueror someone or something. “Beowulf” is a poem about a young man, Beowulf, who slays a monster and his mother with his bare hands to protect the people he loves. As the years go by Beowulf becomes king and a dragon begins to stir. In

Sir Gawain And Everyman: Two Christian Heroes

908 words - 4 pages Although coming from widely differing contexts, the heroes of the two medieval texts, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Everyman, bear some remarkable similarities. Of course, one of them is a great medieval hero, the brightest star in King Arthur's constellation, while the other is a common man, a representative of the mass, they show some common traits when confronted with death in their respective situation. More precisely, these two

Essay Comparing/Contrasting Heroic Styles Of Beowulf And Sir Gawain

851 words - 3 pages willing to sacrifice his own life to save his king. He thinks he is the least of the Knights, and the most nonessential of them, and therefore the best candidate. Furthermore, "I would fainer fall dead than fail in my errand" (42) shows his dedication to the task he set out for. The two characters are in stark contrast between their concepts of self-worth. As you can see, the Anglo-Saxon and early English people held widely varying notions of what a hero/ leader figure should be. For the anonymous scop that wrote Beowulf, battle, glory, and fame were paramount; to the unknown singer of Sir Gawain, honor, honesty, and loyalty to one's country had top priority.

Comparison Of Modern Day Heroes And Beowulf

740 words - 3 pages Comparison of Modern Day Heroes and Beowulf Most of us have heard of modern day heroes such as Spiderman, Superman, and the Hulk. Each is a hero to many children. Heroes are introduced to people early on in life usually as fictional characters, but as children grow older their perceptions of heroes alter. The characteristics of a hero are usually based around the ideas of a society or culture. In the epic Beowulf, the main character is