Heroism in Beowulf and the Wife of Bath's Tale

Topics: Hero, Grendel, The Wife of Bath's Tale Pages: 2 (638 words) Published: June 24, 2012
The stories “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “Beowulf” both display examples of heroism. In the time of Beowulf, heroism was thought to have been strictly based on pure strength and the ability to defeat opponents. As time progresses, the definition of a hero has become more open. In the time of “The Wife of Bath's Tale”, wisdom and the ability to make important decisions are becoming qualities for defining a hero. Heroes are very important within a society, they give people hope and someone to look up to in a time of need, with the measures of defining a hero changing, this allows for a wider variety of people, including women, to become heroes.

Beowulf “who of all the men on earth was the strongest” was regarded as a hero because of his recognizable strength and the ability to defeat his opponents, in this case, the monster Grendel. If Beowulf had attempted to defeat Grendel in another manner, without using his strength, he may not have been recognized as a hero in the same fashion. In The Wife of Bath's Tale, the knight, who does wrong, is punished. Along his travels to fulfil what he must do to be forgiven, he meets a crone who claims that she can help him. She says she to help him in return for something, he agrees. After, the crone claims that what women desire the most is “to have mastery over their man”. The crone does something heroic when she stands up for the rights of women and their dominance in a male-dominated society. Though by different terms, both are important acts of heroism that help a society.

Beowulf was a strong, brave, great warrior, who was praised by many people and “neither south nor north, was there a warrior worthier to rule over men (but no one meant Beowulf's praise to belittle Hrothgar, their kind and gracious king” The people admired their king greatly, and to compare Beowulf to him was a great honour and it shows they thought of Beowulf as an important hero in their society. The knight in The Wife of Bath's Tale...
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