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Essay on Epic of Beowulf

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Beowulf

Beowulf vs. The Knight from Canterbury Tales

A hero or heroine can be found in many different forms. There are certain characteristics that make up a hero or a heroine. Some of those characteristics are someone who is endowed with great courage, loyalty, obedience, cleverness, strength, and someone who is noted for special achievement.

The hero Beowulf, from the story Beowulf, is a seemingly invincible person with all the extraordinary traits required of a hero. He is able to use his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people before himself. He encounters dreadful monsters and the most vicious of beasts but he never fears the threat of death. His leadership skills are excellent and he is even able to brag about all his achievements. Beowulf is the ultimate epic hero who risks his life countless times for immortal glory and for the good of others.

Not to be outspoken is another great hero. In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, written in approximately 1385, is a collection of twenty-four stories allegedly told by various people who are going on a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral. In the General Prologue, Chaucer introduces all of the characters who are involved in this journey and who will tell the tales. Among the many characters is the Knight. The knight, “possessed fine horses, but he was not gaily dressed". Indeed, the knight is dressed in a common shirt, which is stained "where his armor had left mark" (literature book, pg. 107, line 78). Clearly, the knight possesses an outstanding character. Chaucer gives to the knight one of the more flattering descriptions in the General Prologue. The knight can do no wrong: he is an outstanding warrior. The Knight remains ...


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...are what make a hero what he or she is. A hero is honored by his or her followers. In the cases of Beowulf and the Knight, they were both honored and respected by their peoples.

It would be nice to think that people such as the Knight and Beowulf could exist in the twentieth century. The fact of the matter is that it is unlikely that people such as the Knight or Beowulf existed even in the fourteenth century. As he does with all of his characters, Chaucer is producing a stereotype in creating the Knight. Chaucer, in describing the Knight, is describing a chivalric ideal. The history of the middle ages demonstrates that this ideal rarely was manifested in actual conduct. Nevertheless, in his description of the knight, Chaucer shows the reader the possibility of the chivalric way of life. The characters of the Knight and Beowulf are classic examples of heroes.


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