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Comparison of Beowulf and Sir Gawain as Heroes

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Words: 1274 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 1274|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Introduction: A hero is an individual who is prepared to risk his own life for the greater good. Background: In the poem Beowulf, the main protagonist Beowulf himself has demonstrated qualities of what makes a great epic hero. On the other hand, Sir Gawain, the main protagonist of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight exhibits traits that hail a chivalric hero. These poems reflect the character’s heroism through the rich culture their society possess as shown throughout the progression of their respective stories. Thesis statement: Both poems start with a necessity to face an opponent who is very strong and powerful and with their virtues, they are able to defeat them in ways that are both extraordinary. Although “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” have different notions of a hero, both Beowulf and Sir Gawain possess multiple similarities in their virtues that refines and encourages their characters to pursue the challenges they encounter.

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Topic sentence: Beowulf is introduced with respect and high regard. Evidence & citing: The narrator introduces Beowulf as a “noble and mighty” warrior (Beowulf 198) which indicates that his legacy is worth the praise. As a hero, loyalty is one of the virtues that affirms that of an individual. This is a trait that Beowulf definitely displays corresponding his first meeting with Hrothgar and so, he proves that such virtue cannot be measured even by blood relations. Beowulf assures Hrothgar that he “shall grapple with the fiend and fight for life, foe against foe” (Beowulf 439-40). Commentary: His promise displays a deep commitment so much as claiming the enemy of someone else’s as his own. This loyalty becomes moral support between him and Hrothgar, strengthened by loyalty that is unbreakable and as strong as kinship itself. Pledging his allegiance to the king shows that Beowulf manifests selflessness in order to fulfill his promised task.

Topic sentence: Like Beowulf, Sir Gawain shows that it takes sincere loyalty to be able to put his own life in danger to protect his king. As a knight coming from the reputable Round Table, Sir Gawain takes pride in being a member and lives by the code of a chivalric hero. His loyalty is tested when the Green Knight visited their feast and taunted Arthur’s house to take a blow against him (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 309-15). As their king, it is Arthur’s duty to protect his people. Evidence & citing: Sir Gawain recognizes the immediate danger their kingdom is in because if Arthur’s life is put at risk, so is his people’s lives. Sir Gawain offers his own life for Arthur saying that “many brave men sit about you in their places . . . unrivalled in temper of mind, and without equal of as warriors on field of battle. I am the weakest of them, I know, and the dullest minded, so my death would be least loss” (Beowulf 343-61). Commentary: In his speech, he claims that since his life is not as important as the king’s and he welcomes the consequence that he might face him as he takes on the responsibility of facing the Green Knight. His speech also displays his humility, a trait that is also apparent throughout the poem. He recognizes that he does not deserve any special attention just because he is related to the king by blood; therefore being regarded as a knight who is willing to sacrifice his life for the good of his people.

Topic sentence: Both of these heroes’ loyalty has guided them and set a moral standard for their characters. A promise is a contract made as an assurance to the deliverance of a certain act that has to be accomplished. In Beowulf, the hero boasts his successes and vows his ability to fight his opponents. In his time where oral contracts are regarded as important as the man’s reputation himself, Beowulf never fails his followers no matter when he declares his intention. Evidence & citing: Before he fights Grendel with his allegiance for Hrothgar, he promised that he “would entirely fulfill the wishes of your [Hrothgar’s] people, or fall slain” (Beowulf 634-35). He declares that he is prepared to give his best to this battle even with the fact of risking his own life. This promise, if not fulfilled however will tarnish his name and honor even if he manages to live, like Unferth’s attempt to humiliate and discourage him by recounting Beowulf’s “loss” to competition with Breca (Beowulf 449-528). Notwithstanding, Beowulf exhibits his loyalty and trustworthiness by killing the enemies that terrorize the Danes. Commentary: Although it may be seen as Beowulf is being boastful, he is genuinely creating an oral contract between him and to his followers. He is reassuring them that he has the strength and experience with battles to fulfill his promise. Evidence & citing: Sir Gawain also features the importance of honoring verbal contracts. After his fateful encounter with the Green Knight, the rest of the year went by swiftly, especially for him. Tension grows not only within himself but also with the people surrounding him as the match comes nearer day by day. Despite the pressure, he showed the other knights that the promise he has made is something that he needs to face “for whether kind or harsh/A man’s fate must be tried” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 564-65). Commentary: He acknowledges that even when he is about to face death, it is the duty of a knight to execute his promise. He commits to his obligation to represent the Round Table, affirms their reputation, and serve as a model to display the ideal qualities of a brave knight.

Topic sentence: Courage is persistent throughout the stories. It gives heroes the strength to face challenges in all forms. Beowulf’s adventures start with the willingness to face the uncertain with great faith that he will stand a chance. Evidence & citing: Without courage, Beowulf would not be regarded as a hero because to be a hero is to be selfless, regardless of the consequences. Near the end of Beowulf, the hero’s abilities are once again challenged. As their king, Beowulf promises that he will “seek out a feud and do a glorious deed” (Beowulf 2513-14 ) to his people. Commentary: He shows bravery despite his old age and willingly went out to fight the dragon himself. Thus, always pursuing the best for his people. When Sir Gawain steps up for Arthur, he is already showing great courage. Evidence & citing: Throughout the poem, Sir Gawain’s virtues are challenged especially his courageousness. Resulting from his giving in to the temptation to use the girdle to protect himself from the blow of the ax, his courage and bravery are severely confronted. In the end, what made him overcome his loss is the courage to admit his wrongs and confess his deception. He admitted that “for fear of your blow taught me cowardice . . . now I am false and unworthy . . . let me regain your trust” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 2379-88). He demonstrates remorse for his action and cowardice that led him to lose his faith and honor. Commentary: His ability to gather strength in spite of his situation is inspiring in a way that courage does motivate an individual to find honesty and humility within himself to overcome the challenges they are facing no matter how frightening it is. Certainly, courage is one of the most definitive characteristics of a hero.

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Conclusion paragraph: Therefore, both characters went through unsurmountable battles and temptations—with Beowulf facing strong enemies and Sir Gawain fighting temptations internally. Both poems, Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight avow various important notions of a hero. Three of the main qualities that stand out most are their loyalty, respect to oral contracts, and courageousness and these are the virtues that help them overcome their respective battles.

References

  1. Jambeck, T. J. (1973). THE SYNTAX OF PETITION IN" BEOWULF" AND" SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT". Style, 21-29. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/42945149)
  2. Burrow, J. A. (2019). A reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Routledge. (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9780429060557/reading-sir-gawain-green-knight-burrow)
  3. van Meeuwen, R. S. (2018). Monstrosity in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Bachelor's thesis). (https://studenttheses.uu.nl/handle/20.500.12932/30271)
  4. Thomas, A., & Thomas, A. (2018). Writing, Memory, and Revenge in Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Hamlet. Shakespeare, Catholicism, and the Middle Ages: Maimed Rights, 113-147. (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-90218-0_4)
  5. Hunter, S. M. (1984). TALES, TELLERS, AND AUDIENCES: NARRATIVE STRUCTURE AND AESTHETIC RESPONSE IN" BEOWULF"," PEARL"," CLEANNESS"," PATIENCE", AND" SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT". University of California, Riverside. (https://www.proquest.com/openview/d6dcc469b38fea5f718bc195f8ec9e14/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y)

Introduction close-button

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Background close-button

Provides a foundational overview, outlining the historical context and introducing key information that will be further explored in the essay, setting the stage for the argument to follow.

Thesis statement close-button

Cornerstone of the essay, presenting the central argument that will be elaborated upon and supported with evidence and analysis throughout the rest of the paper.

Topic sentence close-button

The topic sentence serves as the main point or focus of a paragraph in an essay, summarizing the key idea that will be discussed in that paragraph.

Evidence & citing close-button

The body of each paragraph builds an argument in support of the topic sentence, citing information from sources as evidence.

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After each piece of evidence is provided, the author should explain HOW and WHY the evidence supports the claim.

Conclusion paragraph close-button

Should follow a right side up triangle format, meaning, specifics should be mentioned first such as restating the thesis, and then get more broad about the topic at hand. Lastly, leave the reader with something to think about and ponder once they are done reading.

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Comparison Of Beowulf And Sir Gawain As Heroes. (2023, March 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparison-of-beowulf-and-sir-gawain-as-heroes/
“Comparison Of Beowulf And Sir Gawain As Heroes.” GradesFixer, 01 Mar. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparison-of-beowulf-and-sir-gawain-as-heroes/
Comparison Of Beowulf And Sir Gawain As Heroes. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparison-of-beowulf-and-sir-gawain-as-heroes/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
Comparison Of Beowulf And Sir Gawain As Heroes [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Mar 01 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparison-of-beowulf-and-sir-gawain-as-heroes/
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