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Gawain Heroes

Sir Gawain existed in late medieval England, where romance and folklore was
prevalent, while Beowulf lived in the times when the Anglo-Saxon’s migrated,
hence the narrator’s visions both differed from what they believed constituted
a true hero. “Beowulf” written as an epic poem, dictates the idea of a hero
as someone who is viewed as a savior to his people. Beowulf has one duty: he
must fight to win. If he succeeds, he is a hero, if he fails he would be viewed
a failure. The narrator illustrates a hero as a loyal, honorable, and courageous
person, all of which Beowulf exemplifies. Beowulf risks his life countless times
for immortal glory and for the good of his people. Beowulf’s ability to put
his people before himself, mark him honorable. He encounters hideous monsters
and the most ferocious of beasts, but never fears the threat of death. His power
surmounts twenty men in one arm alone, additionally his leadership qualities
make him a superb hero in the eyes of his fellow men. For example, when Beowulf
is fighting Grendel’s mother, who is seeking revenge on her son’s death, he
is able to slay her by slashing the monster’s neck with a Giant’s sword that
can only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. When he chops off her head,
he carries it from the ocean with ease, but it takes four men to lift and carry
it back to Herot mead-hall. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf’s heroism.

His loyalty and the ability to think of himself last, allows all to view him
with the utmost respect. Beowulf ventured out to help the Danes with complete
sincerity, an unusual occurrence in the time of war and widespread fear. He set
a noble example for all humans relaying the necessity of brotherhood and
friendship. His loyal and courageous attributes are what set him apart from
someone who can merely kill a monster. In the final line, the narrator clearly
acknowledges Beowulf’s true kingship, “They said that he was of world-kings
the mildest of men and the gentlest, kindest to his people, and most eager for
fame.” Beowulf’s ability to put his people’s welfare before his own
exemplifies his strong belief in fate. His belief is, if he dies in battle it is
because his destiny was to do so. He always explains his death wishes before
going into battle and requests to have any assets delivered to his people.

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“And if death does take me, send the hammered mail of my armor to Higlac,
return the inheritance I had from Hrehtel, and from Wayland.” Beowulf is aware
he will be glorified in life or death for his actions. He knows that when he
fights an enemy like Grendel or Grendel’s mother he will achieve immortality
as the victor or the loser. Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf
possesses, he understands fate will work it’s magic and he could be killed at
any point in his life. He faces reality by showing no fear and preparing for a
positive or fatal outcome. Stated by Beowulf in the text, “Fate will unwind as
it must!” In this line he realizes the dangers of battle, but fears nothing
for his own life. In comparison the narrator in “Sir Gawain and The Green
Knight” links heroism to chivalry, which includes bravery, honor and courtesy.

Sir Gawain 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 or
not he receives it back. He in the end proves he is a “true” Knight. In
medieval England the idea of fighting for others survival was no longer the
primary focus, instead the hero fought for his own ideals, which is evident in
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. Yet a romantic hero can be described
almost as an epic one; he is loyal, honorable and courageous. The knight,
however, must possess courtly skills and be careful not to be led into
temptation by ulterior motives. His task can be looked upon, perhaps, as
spiritual rather than physical, as shown in Beowulf, because Gawain’s setting
implies a state of peace and harmony. The knight never truly sets out to defeat
another character. Each confrontation to Sir Gawain lies within himself,
particularly when the wife of the Green Knight temps him with lustful notions.

Sir Gawain’s bravery is first evident when the Green Knight enters King
Arthur’s Court. The Green Knight taunts


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