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Beowulf And Sir Gawain's Heroism, As A Literary Archetype.

2179 words - 9 pages

In examination of literature, one may notice many different and reoccurring archetypes that give shape to many of our favorite characters in history and the present. These archetypes often follow patterns of similarity, but can be most interesting because of their variances. One of the most prevalent archetypes in literature, throughout history is "The Hero", and the basic character traits which a hero may posses. Although different societies may reveal their own individual ideologies through the characteristics of their heroes, the hero and the hero's journey are two of the unifying features of literature that can be found across all cultures, and has defined much of the literature in human history. This myth occurs so frequently in literature that readers often can predict the outcome of novels based on it. Upon analysis of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight and Beowulf, I noticed the archetypal heroic qualities characters Sir Gawain and Beowulf posses. These character's qualities are contrastable because of different societal influence and time frame in which they were written; yet the qualities are also quite comparable due to their basic structure. Heroism, as a literary archetype, can be defined by distinctive bravery, honor, sense of duty, and adherence to the given society's code of behavior, where the hero experiences a personal journey and the inevitability of human imperfections.Beowulf's bravery is evident when he shows such immense courage upon being faced with the challenge of protecting King Hrothgar and his people against Grendel and Grendel's mother in Beowulf. He doesn't just take on the challenging task, but he does it with strength with persistence, in spite of all the stories he hears about Grendel, he still fights the beast without any hesitation, showing the great strength in his heroism. "Stoutness of heart, bravery not banishment, must have brought you to Hrothgar." (Beowulf, p.39, Lines 338-339) When he battles with Grendel, he does it without the usual things that everyone else would surely use--weapons. "I hereby renounce sword and the shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-board: hand to hand is how it will be, a life-and-death fight with a fiend." (Beowulf, p.41, Lines 436-440) This shows that Beowulf is not scared, or at least can easily conquer his fear, and let his arrogant mentality guide him to believe that no one can defeat him. This indeed keeps Beowulf from quitting at a time that any average person would have been most likely to. Sir Gawain also shows a similar bravery in his acceptance of The Green Knight's challenge in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, although he is more hesitant then Beowulf, he too is able to conquer his fear, and face the challenge that the Green Knight presents to King Arthur with bravery.The heroic trait of honor is to show a sense of integrity in one's actions. When Beowulf went to the land of the Danes to kill Grendel, he did it not because he wanted money, but because he wanted to...

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