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Gawain Heroes Essay Research Paper Sir Gawain

Gawain Heroes Essay, Research Paper 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,

Gawain Heroes Essay, Research Paper

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.

?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 the people with the question, does

anyone dare to take his axe, but first allow him to give the brave soul an

well-aimed stroke with it to the neck? Sir Gawain concerned himself with this

burden and took the ax from the knight. Gawain knew by doing so he would have to

find the Green Knight and receive a blow to his neck in return. Many felt Sir

Gawain would not return if he ventured forth and fulfilled his obligations.

Gawain accepts this, knowing on his travel he more than likely will be put to

death, yet he risked his final crusade with the greatest bravery. He accepts

these terms and gives the Green Knight his axe without haste. As time passes,

eventually Sir Gawain realizes he must begin his fated search and find the Green

Knight and his chapel. In welcoming the Green Knight?s challenge he shows his

honor to the whole court. Though many adversities he faced, Gawain still went

on. ?And at that holy tide, He pray with all his might, That Mary may be his

guide, Til a dwelling comes in sight.? (II, 736-739), all to fulfill his

promise to the Green Knight. He felt his honor and faith would lead him to a

castle. Gawain courteously asks for shelter and tells the castle?s court of

his crusade. Gawain pleased, made companionship with the king. The king fond of

Gawain made an agreement with him. The proposed agreement to prove his honor was

?Whatever I earn in the woods I will give you at eve, And all you have earned

you must offer to me.? (II, 1106-1107) Sir Gawain is very courteous in all he

does especially while in the company of the king. He is tempted daily by the

king?s wife. The lady was to be aggressive in order to gain Gawain?s love

for her, but he had much control of the situation, yet still managed to give her

everything she asked for in a courteous polite manner. Sir Gawain appears to be

incapable and thoughtless at first, but slowly proves himself by his subtle

actions. Sir Gawain represents loyalty along with an unclear purpose. He must

put his life before the king?s and fulfill duties that are not always demanded

of him. Sir Gawain is a hero only if he can face his failures. He demonstrates

his heroism when he admits his mortality and imperfections in these lines: ?I

can?t deny my guilt; my works shine none to fair! Give me your good will, and

henceforth I?ll beware.? The ages in which these stories were written plays

a major part in the messages the narrators are trying to convey. Beowulf was

probably written around 400 A. D. when the main idea was survival of the

fittest. The monsters Beowulf fought were actual monsters, and he battled

against plague, disease, hunger, and thieves, who would stop at nothing. Being

the story paralleled the Anglo-Saxon way of living they would have never been

able to relate to Sir Gawain and his struggles internally. Sir Gawain?s time

was by far less threatening. King Arthur was in charge, and every day seemed to

be like one right out of a fairy tale. They ignored and forgot monsters,

dragons, or plagues; there were only noble men, and great feasts. With no

obvious threat on Camelot, King Arthur?s knights surely had to find some

alternative way to prove their chivalry. In conclusion to the heroic traits of

both characters everything Beowulf was for his time, Sir Gawain was for his.

They both understood glory and at the same time, defeat.

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