The Contrast in the Characteristics of a Hero in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 188
  • Published : November 16, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
The contrast in the characteristics of a hero in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The word “hero” can be defined in many ways. Some would say a hero is a mythological term for a man or a woman with great power (superhuman), who is honored in their village. This man or woman would be a noble being who is a warrior for his or her people, who has inhuman strength, and large amounts of courage, confidence, loyalty and ability. Others would say that a hero is simply someone admired for their brave deeds and loyal traits (average human). In the case of the works Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the protagonists in these stories are each taking on their own definition of the word “hero”. Beowulf is more of the mythological hero, being inhumanly strong and a great warrior; whereas Sir Gawain is an average human being remarked for his noble acts in King Arthurs court.

In the tale of Beowulf, the notion of heroism is more centered on the mythological definition. Beowulf is described as being a very physically strong being, and the way that it’s worded in the story, it makes him seem supernaturally strong, “—that this fighting man/ in his hand’s grasp has the strength/ of thirty other men.” (379-381). There is also a part where Beowulf talks about his defeating many monsters, and it suggests in a way, immortality: Had they not seen me come home from fights/where I had bound five Giants—their blood was upon me—/cleaned out a nest of them? Had I not crushed on the wave of sea-serpents by night in narrow struggle,/ broken the beasts? (The bane of the Geats,/ they had asked for their trouble.) And shall I not try/ a single match with this monster Grendel,/ a trial against this troll? (419-426) Beowulf is very confident that he should battle Grendel, because he is very sure of himself, he has confidence in his many abilities.

Beowulf again shows the qualities of a mythological hero when he refuses to listen to the warning Hrothgar gives him,...
tracking img