The True Hero - Sir Gawain vs Beowulf

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain versus Beowulf

A true hero is one who is willing to sacrifice his own existence for the life of another. Two characters portrayed as heroes are Sir Gawain, a character from the tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Beowulf, another character from an ancient British epic entitled of the same name. The difference between Beowulf and Sir Gawain, is that Sir Gawain is a real hero, and Beowulf just thinks he is.

The two heroes can be compared in many ways. A major comparison would be their physical characteristics. Beowulf is portrayed as the having “the strength of thirty/in the grip of each hand...”[380]. Sir Gawain has humility, “My body, but for your worth, is barren”[357] and takes King Arthur's place in the 'Christmas Game'. Comparing the two heroes' ethics we see that they contrast each other greatly. Beowulf seems to have little morals that he lives by. His pride in himself and loyalty to his country are surely characteristics of a hero, but it seems throughout the whole epic poem he boasts about how wonderful he is. But there is not one line in which he shows the strengths of his own heart. Only his quest to put an other 'notch in is belt'. Sir Gawain never shows a sign of arrogance, only selflessness, honesty, and his loyalty to the Code of Chivalry. Sir Gawain stays true to his word, and seeks out the Green Knight as promised. He also withstands the advances of a married woman three times.

Both men have fights they have won, but Sir Gawain has fears that he overcame to keep his promise. Beowulf's story comes across like a children's tale with a cliché hero. Sir Gawain's actions, words, and honor have made him a greater hero than Beowulf could ever have tried to be.
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