Heroism Beowulf and Sir Garwain

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Beowulf and Gawain are both presented as heroic figures in their respective cultures. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrogar, who is the king of Danes. Beowulf explores his heroism in two separate phases- youth and age- and through three separate and increasingly difficult conflicts- with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. His youth heroism as an unfettered warrior and his mature heroism as a reliable king. In his youth, he is a great warrior, predominantly by his feats of strength and courage, which reflected by his fabled swimming match against Breca. His defeat of Grendel and Grendel’s mother validates his reputation for bravery and establishes him fully as a hero. In the combat with Grendel and Grendel’s mother, Beowulf completely shows his fearless and bravery. He makes his battle with Grendel more than a simple slay-the-monster task. By announcing that it will be a hand-to-hand combat, he gains extra glory for himself and the Geatish king, Hygelac, turning the contest into a feat of strength as well as a fight against evil. He also perfectly embodies the manners and values dictated by the Germanic hero code, including loyalty, courtesy and pride. He shows enough respect and loyalty to king which can be seen from the poem, “Let whoever can /win glory before death. When a warrior is gone/ that will be his best and only bulwark.” (1387-1389). In the second part of the poem, through a series of retrospectives, I can recover much about how Beowulf comports himself as a king and warrior. Instead of rushing for the throne himself, he does not do what Hrothulf did in Denmark, he supports Hygelac’s son, the right heir, which proving his gesture of loyalty and respect. As Beowulf matures, becomes the king. The poet reflects further on how the responsibilities of king, during the encounter with the dragon, he acts for the good of the people and not just for his own glory differ from those of the heroic warrior. Even through, Beowulf’s moral...
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