Beowulf and Sir Gawain are what you may call heroes. A definition of the word hero is a person who is idealized for courage, admired, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. (dictionary) They can be called a hero, both men have many qualities that would be expected of heroic knights and warriors. The men are both gallant, brave and skilled men. People should believe in them, but do they? Both men attempt to honor their kings and kingdoms. One hero is liked by most, and the other has many loyal followers. These men are shown as great leaders in their time. As they are portrayed as perfect heroes, both men are far from perfect.
Sir Gawain is brave, but Beowulf has more of the natural heroic. Beowulf goes to the land of Danes without being told to go. King Hrothgar does not order him to go. Beowulf tells the king he believes he should go help the Danes defeat Grendel. His followers support him because they know Beowulf is a great warrior and a great leader. Beowulf wants to help the king because his father was in debt to him and being honorable warrior, Beowulf wants to pay that debt. Beowulf risks his life for a country that he is not a part of. In every battle Beowulf fights, he fights honorably.
When he fights Grendel, he uses no weapons because Grendel fights unarmed. He only uses weapons to fight the dragon and Grendel’s mother because he cannot win otherwise. He does not cheat. He does not use unfair advantages. Beowulf fights with honor. Throughout his life, Beowulf fought many heroic battles. He defeated all sorts of monsters and creatures. He boasts about all his accomplishments in his short life when he is in the land of the Danes.
Sir Gawain, unlike Beowulf he is hesitant to accept the King’s challenge. Sir Gawain fears for his life. He only accepts the challenge to protect the King’s honor and life. He knows that it is his duty to protect the King. He only steps up and volunteers at the last second. In doing so Sir Gawain breaks his oath between him and the Lord of the castle he is staying at. He keeps a sash the Lady of the castle gives him because he believes it will protect him during this battle with Green knight. By keeping that sash when they agreed to change whatever they had earned at the end of each day. Sir Gawain plans to cheat by using the magical power sash to save his life. The Lady of the castle he stays in on his journey tempts him several times, but he never gives in and never disrespects her. He declines her advances in a very polite way. Sir Gawain is not once rude to her. Beowulf rarely talks about women at Warriors viewed women as prizes and decoration rather than almost sacred as knights did.
Sir Gawain is very humble. When he accepts the challenge of the Green Knight on behalf of King Arthur, he does so because he believes himself to be the least worthy of life and praise. Sir Gawain tells King Arthur, Think of your bold knights, bursting to fight, as read and willing as mean can be and I am the slightest and dullest of them all; my life the least, my death no loss, (Raffle 58) Sir Gawain is very humble before his King. He offers his life in place of King Arthur’s. Beowulf is very prideful. He boasts about his tasks as often as he can. He likes to showboat his heroism and bravery. Beowulf is driven by his need to be an honorable and well-respected man. The honor he seeks is not wholly for his King’s glory, but the honor of himself.
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