Beowulf Essay, Research Paper
During the medieval era, many different heroes proved to be chivalric. Three of these heroes are Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and King Arthur. All these men have won great battles, which in turn endow them with hero status among their faithful subjects. These three heroes possess chivalric qualities, but none of them are perfect. All three have weaknesses and strengths, which give them the ultimate challenge of proving themselves chivalric.
Beowulf exhibits many weaknesses and strengths, which he portrays in battle. He doesn t believe in using weapons in battle. When he fights the dragon, he becomes mortally wounded because of his old age and slow reflexes. On the might of his hand, as a man must do who thinks to win in the welter of battle enduring glory; he fears not death (Shaw 1). His beliefs have proven to be unwise. He should have realized sooner that letting his fate overthrow his wisdom would get the best of him in the end. There is no question that he is a great warrior, however, he lets his courage overtake his good judgment. The infamous killer fought for his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat, desiring nothing but escape; his claws had been caught, he was trapped (Anonymous 31-32). By leading his army into successful battles, Beowulf proves his chivalry. He understands what needs to be done to win, and this is one of his greatest strengths. However, while Beowulf has good intentions, his weaknesses outweigh his strengths.
Sir Gawain, from the story SGGK, also has many strengths and weaknesses. When the Green Knight challenges King Arthur, Sir Gawain tells him: This affair is too foolish to fall you (Shaw 1). Sir Gawain knows that the possible death of the king would be destructive to the community. His honor is set by his loyalty to his king. His downfall comes soon after: When the lord returns on the third day, Gawain gives him a kiss but does not reveal the gift of the sash (Anonymous 147). Gawain thinks that keeping the sash will not bring him harm. What he doesn t know is that it will end up hurting him more than it will do him good. By following through with the challenge, he shows his chivalric qualities, but it almost costs him his life.
King Arthur portrays many weaknesses and strengths throughout his lifetime. When he fails to acknowledge his dream, it proves to be fatal. Instead of just ignoring it, he should have believed what he saw because it may have saved his life. This is his biggest mistake, and it could have been avoided if only he learned to follow his heart. At the same time, he shows great commitment to his people when he decides to challenge Sir Modred for the reclaim of his kingdom. Despite his horrifying dream, he still follows his instincts and this proves him to be truly heroic. He will be looked up to for a long time to come. So even though he has many faults, his strengths prove his chivalry.
Beowulf s faith in God, Sir Gawain s honor to his king, and King Arthur s loyalty to his people outweigh their faults. The strengths that these three heroes have shown make them truly chivalric knights. While none of them are perfect, they have proven that faith, honor and loyalty mean everything, and they show this in all they do.