Essay Comparing/Contrasting Heroic Styles Of Beowulf And Sir Gawain

851 words - 3 pages

Throughout history, different cultures have held different virtues in the highest regard. The Anglo-Saxons, like the anonymous scop of the poem Beowulf, valued strength and courage over any other quality. On the other hand, the earliest English people, like the poet of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, respected honor and the basic codes of chivalry over all else. Both Beowulf and Sir Gawain, therefore, display the most favored qualities of their people: Beowulf by defeating monsters, performing great feats of courage, and telling of his deeds; Gawain by being loyal, brave, and honest. Both sets of qualities are displayed throughout each tale. In Beowulf, written in about the fourth century AD, the hero's first major test is to fight a huge monster. In doing so, he proves his physical abilities, and thus establishes his hero/ leader status. To be the best, you have to be the strongest, and he says "Fate saves/ the living when they drive away death by themselves!" (572-73), showing how much Beowulf relies on his physical strength. On the other hand, Gawain's first test is not physical, but psychological. He is forced to prove his loyalty to Arthur, by offering his life to the Green Knight. He does not claim to be the best, or the strongest, and in fact claims: "I am the weakest, I am aware" (part 16). Gawain is displaying his modesty, and the medieval belief that a person should be humble about himself. This displays the immediate difference between the two cultures. For the Anglo-Saxons, if you wanted people to know you're a hero, you tell them you're a hero. For Gawain, and the Knights of the Round Table, they must act humbler, in order to appeal to their Christian beliefs. However, both societies do require their heroes to display some similar traits, the most common being courage. Gawain must show how brave he is by making a long and difficult journey to fulfill his oath, and die at the hands of the Green Knight. Beowulf must show his courage by fighting off large monsters, even to the last day of his life. "Why should I be dismayed? /Of doom the fair or drear/ by a man must be assayed" (24) shows how Gawain believes a hero should conduct himself, with dignity and honor. He does not believe that journeying to his death will be such a bad thing, since it will allow him to keep his honor intact. This...

Find Another Essay On Essay comparing/contrasting heroic styles of Beowulf and Sir Gawain

Contrasting Judith and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1210 words - 5 pages The Old English and Middle English time periods brought about many works that are still around today. Judith was created many years before Sir Gawain and the Green Knight but these works can be compared and contrasted. The characters, Judith and Gawain, lead separate lives as they were not brought up the same way and they have a different idea of success. However, there are connections that would be hard to recognize at first glance. In each

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf

476 words - 2 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf “My body, but for your blood, is barren of worth; And tis I have asked for this folly not fit for a King.” These are the words of a true hero. One who is willing to sacrifice his own existence for the life of another. These are the words and actions of Sir Gawain, a character from the beloved British tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Beowulf, another character from an ancient British

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

1780 words - 7 pages Canterbury Tales do, so naturally the Longman editors would place Sir Gawain before The Canterbury Tales in their anthology, though both poems were written around the same time. Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and The Canterbury Tales are wonderful examples of masterpieces in British literature penned throughout the Christianization of Northern Europe. When looking deeper into these British literary pieces, there is an increasing amount

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 Beowulf was written in the eighth century by monks. The word Beowulf means bee-hunter. It was the first book ever written. The Norse tale is principally concerning the exploits of the warrior Beowulf of the Anglo-Saxon times. Beowulf most definitely proves to be a hero in this epic for he is able to conquer his obstacles due to his super-human physical strength, determination and courage.Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through

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

Comparing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Song of Roland

930 words - 4 pages risen to the fore front of the genre as an example for the rest of the stories to follow.  I will be comparing the positive and negative personality traits of two heroes from the famous poems "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and "The Song of Roland."           On the lighter side, both Gawain and Roland had more positive attributes than they did negative.  Both men were honorable

Comparing and Contrasting the Monsters of Beowulf with Today´s Criminals

3018 words - 12 pages an ulterior explanation for why these modern “monsters” cause harm to society. In comparing and contrasting the monsters of Germanic epic with criminals of today, perhaps we can gain some insight into the motivation of both. One reason for which monsters are held in contempt in the epics is the authochthonous Germanic culture of the Middle Ages. This broad society respected those with wealth, status, and honor, while those without any of these

Comparing and Contrasting the Use of Fealty in Beowulf by Seamus Heaney and the Anglo-Saxon poem Dream of the Rood

663 words - 3 pages character Beowulf uses fealty to empower him to perform heroic deeds. This is shown through the actions that he makes: upon hearing of the attacks by Grendel, Beowulf rushes to the aid of Hrothgar, a friend of his father's. Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow, previously killed Heatholaf, a member of the Wulfing tribe. According to Anglo-Saxon terminology and law, a debt or wergild must be paid to the relatives of the victim. Unable to pay this “manprice

Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Heroic Archetype

750 words - 3 pages Beowulf as Heroic Archetype Monsters, their mothers, and dragons! The epic poem Beowulf, author unknown, includes all these mystical creatures and an impervious protagonist after which the poem is named. As the main character in the poem, Beowulf exemplifies the heroic archetype physically, spiritually, and ethically. Beowulf is superior to the average person in many areas, among them physical strength. Throughout the poem

Sir Gawain Essay

768 words - 3 pages Sir Gawain Essay In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain continuously proves his knightly virtues and code of honor. Chivalry includes bravery, honor, and courtesy. He proves that he is in fact a 'real'; Knight. He shows his bravery by shying away from nothing and no one. He proves his honor and courtesy to everyone he meets by showing respect to all whether he receives it back or not.      Sir Gawain shows

Heroic and Religious Truths of "Beowulf"

891 words - 4 pages William Butler Yeats stated that "Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truths, passed on from age to age..." which definitely refers to Anglo-Saxon literature. Stories that have been handed down through the generations were written down and reworked by monks adding religious beliefs. These stories of the Anglo-Saxon literature contain heroic ideals and the traditions of the older Anglo-Saxon religion. "Beowulf

Similar Essays

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

Comparing The Role Of Women In Beowulf And Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1322 words - 5 pages also, unable to speak, and is incapable of being effective and defeating Beowulf in a male-dominated society. Contradictory to Beowulf, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, women play a vital role in this plot. However, these women are neither heroic nor independent. Rather, they are deceitful, lack morals, and are depicted as sexual objects. One woman in particular is Bertilak's wife. Her task is to seduce Gawain on a daily basis

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

Epic Heroes: Sir Gawain And Beowulf

1733 words - 7 pages response to this, Beowulf fights the dragon with a sword and one loyal companion. Beowulf’s life comes to end, but so does the dragons. From this epic poem you can see that good does triumph over evil, but sometimes it comes at a cost. Along with “Beowulf”, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” was another popular poem. This poem was about a squire, Sir Gawain, who chooses to take on a game proposed by the Green Knight instead of his uncle, King