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Hero’s Journey: Sir Gawain And Thomas Becket

720 words - 3 pages

Every hero goes through multiple stages accompanying many obstacles on his or her journey. Although the journeys may differ in detail, structurally, they resemble a sound format. Along the designed adventures, the heroes come into contact with characters that possess fixed personalities or “archetypes.” The stages and archetypes of stories are somewhat predictable, but may take shape in peculiar forms. Both exemplifying heroic characteristics, Sir Gawain from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by J.R.R. Tolkien and Thomas Becket from Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot structurally go on the same archetypical journey, but diverge in the lessons they learn and where the characters start and end in their journeys.
As could be foreseen, Sir Gawain’s and Thomas Becket’s journeys converge into the molded pattern of the Hero’s Journey. First and foremost, they respond to the “Call to Adventure.” Gawain rises up to take the Green Knight’s challenge from King Arthur’s hands (Tolkien 36). Thomas Becket accepts his fate while preaching in the Cathedral on Christmas morning: “…I do not think I shall ever preach to you again… “(Eliot 50). Of course, no quest would be complete without barriers or tricksters. The Green Knight uses his wife to distract Gawain by “sen[ding] her to test [him]” (Tolkien 115). Becket’s enemies are his own conscience, tempting him with sinful desires. At the end of the journey, the hero must change. The two characters are analogously humbled by the Lord, accepting their weak and frail human nature (Tolkien 117-118, Eliot 75-76).
Conversely, heroes usually learn personal lessons, thus, the lessons they learn are distinct. Sir Gawain realizes he cannot fulfill every part of the law after accepting the fair lady’s girdle. He recognizes that his faith is not accredited to himself, but “by the grace of God he still lived” (Tolkien 101). Becket preaches his epiphany: “A martyrdom is always the design of God… for the true martyr…has lost his will in the will of God, and no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of being a...

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