Sir Gawain Vs Beowulf Analysis

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When one idealizes his or her conception of a “hero,” many different characteristics come to mind. If a woman is asked what her description of a hero would be, she may say that it is a chivalrous knight in shining armor that fights to defend his Lady’s honor. If a male is asked what his description would be, however, he may picture a hero as a daring male who embarks on a quest for adventure in which he must fight to the death a grueling battle with an evil monster. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that a hero is not simply one definition or the other, but that both are heroes in their own manner. The poems Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf each relate its own version of an epic hero, in which both strengths and weaknesses can…show more content…
This poses an important question: is an epic hero a perfect being or does the existence of a fatal flaw revoke the title of “hero?” To some, a hero must have every positive quality without any negative qualities. Although Gawain and Beowulf do personify many heroic qualities, they are also subject to their weaknesses. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain chooses to keep the gifted green sash for himself rather than giving it to Lord Bernlak de Hautdesert; because of this Gawain fails to uphold his word and acts selfishly in order to live. In comparison, Beowulf can be interpreted at times as narcissistic and egotistic, violating the heroic quality of being humble. While both instances can be considered major violations of heroism, the reactions of those around the characters suggest that their weaknesses do not define them. Gawain understood his mistake in keeping the sash, feeling he had failed as a knight, acted cowardly and covetous, and was unworthy of any regard as a hero. However, King Arthur and his court continued to view him as honorable even after his misdeed, wearing a band of green in his honor (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight). Likewise, those who encountered Beowulf were often struck by his heroic air and were awed by his acts of strength and bravery, rather than focusing on his sometimes arrogant moments. Due to the inevitable existence of weaknesses, Gawain and Beowulf are simply the embodiment of realistic heroes; neither is perfect, but each is a hero in his own

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