This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

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 universally agreed upon. On the contrary, one man's idea of excellence may very well be another's idea of mediocrity. Yet, human nature is constant enough that by analyzing different literary "heroes", one can discover the standards of excellence that are common to different peoples.

The title characters in both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight were both considered paragons of excellence by their peoples. Yet, upon close inspection of the specific actions of these characters, stark differences emerge. While Gawain is virtuous and exemplifies selflessness, Beowulf's heroism is marred by his pursuit of fame and wealth, which seems to dominate his every action. The discrepancy can be explained by a contextual analysis of both heroes. Gawain's code of chivalry emphasized perfection and thus he is flawless. Beowulf on the contrary adheres to the code of heroism, which is much less stringent on man's actions, and much more open to interpretation.

Gawain's actions reflect the social mores of 14th century England, where a good knight was expected to adhere firmly to the code of chivalry. Gawain is the model knight, gallant and valorous, not to mention a devout Christian. Gawain's superb character traits are bolstered by his status as a member of King Arthur's court. The Gawain poet writes of Camelot: "With all delights on earth they housed there together, / Saving Christ's self, the most celebrated knights,/ The loveliest ladies to live in all time, And the comeliest king to keep court."(Sir Gawain and the Green Knight lines 50-53) The comparison to Christ is significant in that although it acknowledges the inferiority of Arthur's knights to God, nevertheless the poet dares to make the comparison, thereby relating Christ, who is omniscient and infallible, to the knights, who are human beings, and by definition, capable of committing sin. Thus, one can infer that the knight's perceive themselves as earthly manifestations of God himself. With this perception comes the weighty responsibility of ensuring that the spirit of Christianity remains strong. This responsibility, along with the desire to conform to the chivalric code, is the driving force in Gawain's life.

Gawain's interactions with the Green Knight distinguish him from his fellow knights, in that he is the only one brave enough to step to the plate and confront the giant. Faced with the specter of battle with the Green Knight, Gawain rises above all to defend the honor of his good king.  "Then Gawain at...

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

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

"Sir Gawain and The Green Knight." By Sir Gawain

1170 words - 5 pages Sir Gawain and the Green GirdleThe distant effects brought upon by Sir Gawain keeping a Green Girdle are presented in the poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. There are several accounts where the main character, Sir Gawain, fights his inner human nature. Gawain is essentially a knight, and ultimately a human being that like all human beings, fears death. A green girdle given to him by a lord's lady in the end saves his life. However, Sir

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1007 words - 4 pages Defining a True Hero 	Is a hero the one who decides to stand up when everyone else is only thinking about it? Is a hero the one who retains integrity rather than give in to the world’s everyday temptations? Is a hero the picture of courage, or an example of morals? These are the questions that arise after reading the epic story of Beowulf by an anonymous author, and the romantic tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, also written by

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1082 words - 4 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Sir Gawain Faces Temptation      Sir Gawain was known as a noble and honest man who was willing to stare death in the face to protect King Arthur. However, the courtly Sir Gawain is submitted to the unexpected—not to the test he expects, but to one he does not expect (qtd. in Spearing). The underlying theme throughout the entire poem is temptation, which, is Sir Gawain’s greatest

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1962 words - 8 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Character Analysis of Sir Gawain "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell" is a medieval romance poem written by an anonymous author. Sir Gawain is one of the major characters in the poem. He is a very likable personality. Sir Gawain represents an ideal knight of the fourteenth century. Throughout the story, we see Sir Gawain portrayed as a very courteous and noble knight, always trying to help King Arthur

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

956 words - 4 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight In this passage taken from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Lines 1623-1718, the reader sees how Sir Gawain is the hero of the poem, through the tests of the host. Sir Gawain is speaking to the host of the castle where he is staying for a few days before journeying on to the Green Chapel. The host has just returned from hunting and killing some boar. While the host is out hunting for the boar, we learn that

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

2183 words - 9 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the poet depicts an entertaining story of adventure and intrigue. However, the poem is more than a grand adventure. It is an attempt to explore the moral ideals of Sir Gawain. Gawain's standards are represented by the pentangle on his shield. The depiction of the pentangle occurs when Sir Gawain is preparing to gear up for his quest for the Green Chapel. Gawain's outfit

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1594 words - 6 pages Women, Courtly Love and the Creation Myth in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight      Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a great epic written in fourteenth century Europe by the Pearl poet, emphasizes the opposition of Christian love to Courtly love in the 13th century through the dilemma of Sir Gawain, one of the great knights of the Arthurian round table. By examining the women in the poem, Gawain's dilemma becomes a

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1504 words - 7 pages The poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight compares a super natural creature to nature. The mystery of the poem is ironic to the anonymous author. The story dates back into the fourteenth century, but no one knows who originally wrote the poem. This unknown author explains in the poem of Sir Gawain not knowing of the location of the Green Chapel and or who the Green Knight really is. This keeps the reader entertained with the suspicion of not

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

804 words - 3 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale spun from the Legends of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Typically intended to inspire lessons of chivalry and humility, Sir Gawain’s story follows the road paved by previous Camelot accounts. In thoroughly providing an analysis of this story one must first determine the plot, followed by the metaphorical use of illustration and imagery, which the storyteller employed in order to reveal

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

1623 words - 6 pages Sir Gawain and The Green Knight Summary The story begins in King Arthur's court, where he and the Knights of the Round Table are celebrating New Year's. While they are enjoying their feast, a gigantic Green Knight rides in on a green horse with an immense axe in his hand to offer them a challenge. His offer is: "I shall bide the fist blow, as bare as I sit…….., but in twelve month and one day he shall have of me the same." (Norton

Similar Essays

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

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight And Beowulf

476 words - 2 pages does give the dagger to his host also. Sir Gawain also kept true to his vow to find the Green Knight and receive his beheading. Both Sir Gawain and Beowulf have fights they have won, but Sir Gawain has fears that he overcame to keep his promise.      Both Beowulf and Sir Gawain were terrific warriors, and both of their stories were entertaining. But Sir Gawain’s story stuck out due to it’s truth, and the role model it presented. Beowulf’s story just seemed like any children’s tale with a cliché hero. Sir Gawain’s actions, words, and honor have made him a greater hero than Beowulf could ever have tried to be.           

Essay On Games In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1373 words - 5 pages Games in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight     Many games are involved in the plot of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Green Knight, Bercilak de Hautdesert, plays a "Christmas game" with Arthur's court at Camelot (line 283); Gawain's host's wife plays games with Gawain throughout the third section of the poem; Gawain's sees his arrangement of mutual trade with his host as a game (line 1380); and all of the events of the story are

Comparing Sir Gawain And The Green Knight And Julius Caesar

763 words - 4 pages Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, his assassination, and the defeat of the conspirators at the Battle of Philippi. In 1599, when the play was first performed, Queen Elizabeth I had sat on the throne for nearly forty years, enlarging her power at the expense of the aristocracy and the House of Commons. Sir Gawain and the Green knight is Arthurian romance