Though all men to a certain extent share the same qualities, some are more pronounced than in the others. It is important to see how these qualities are central to their respective stories and how it helps (or hinders) them in their journeys. The greatest value of Beowulf is his bravery, some may say bravado. There is no doubt that he is a great warrior. Beowulf's heroism belongs to a different time than that of King Arthur or Sir Gawain.
Beowulf is a character that possesses all the qualities of an Anglo-Saxon hero. He is strong, fearless, brave, courageous, and arrogant. But are these qualities enough to consider him a hero by the standards of today? A hero not only needs to be physically outstanding, but he also needs to have integrity, moral values and needs to act without thinking in his own benefit. Beowulf has many characteristics of a hero but he also has some defects that make me think that he wouldn’t be considered a hero in today´s world.
We expect heroes to be someone who will go above and beyond the call of duty and to be the first to react at the face of danger. But a hero to one may be an enemy to another. Is there a way to differentiate these heroes so that there is a clear divide that qualifies a person to be a hero? In the following epics, Njal’s Saga and The Nibelugenlied, Gunnar and Siegfried respectively, are portrayed as protagonist characters who display acts of heroism to settle arguments. Because of their glorified heroic feats, they both become blind-sided, unaware that their acts subsequently level them to what one would consider an enemy.
A definition is seldom absolute, and the fickle definition of hero is no exception. Some envision a hero as one who excels in battle and others admire champions of peace. Regardless of this personal understanding, however, all common and perfunctory thoughts surrounding the title, hero, are quickly unraveled when we examine the life of any mortal. While it would be impossible for anyone to perfectly satisfy the role of a hero, save the Savior, most of us have created certain standards within our minds that we strive and search for. Ernest Hemmingway in his short work, “The Sun Also Rises” presents to us a world accommodating a “Lost Generation” in which the central figure’s interactions with various men give us fragmented pictures of what it means to be a hero.
Beowulf had a direct spiritual connection while Gilgamesh questions the actions and even opposes one of them (Ishtar). Beowulf and Gilgamesh are both deemed heroes. According to heroic ethos, Beowulf proves to be the more valiant, law abiding one. He embodies the necessary characteristics of the Anglo – Saxon/Germanic hero (courage, loyalty, and greatness in warfare/battle). However, it can also be argued that Gilgamesh is a great hero because of his divergence from the classical heroic model.
In Beowulf and Grendel, directed by Sturla Gunnarsson, Beowulf is depicted as caring, compassionate, noble, and understanding, which makes him seem as if he had every trait of a true hero. He seems quite the opposite, however, in the story Grendel by John Gardner. The book Grendel portrays Beowulf as sinister and ruthless, which makes him seem less of a hero. What society values in a hero today is portrayed more in the movie than the book, which suggests that one is considered a true hero only if he or she has certain heroic traits accepted by society. One characteristic a person must have in order to be considered a hero is honor.
The definition of a hero is: A person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. I don’t think people really take that definition into account when they, so easily, give that title away. People usually make up their own definition of what a hero is. The problem with people coming up with their own definition is that its not completely their own idea. In my opinion I think they are all heroes to someone, point being that everyone's idea of a hero is different.
The stories describe two very different heroes. Beowulf was undoubtedly a hero, but as time advanced and the world became more complicated, what constituted a hero became more shady; therefore, while he is not anything like Beowulf, Sir Gawain is also in fact a true hero. 	Beowulf is a hero. That is an undeniable fact. His heroic image stands out notably because Beowulf is what could be called an active hero while Sir Gawain plays the part of a passive hero, but still a hero nonetheless.
Sir Gawain who does embody heroic characteristics, like, bravery and intelligence, still falls short in establishing recognition like Beowulf did. To Sir Gawain, it wasn’t about his identity or his kingdom. Sir Gawain had the ultimate desire to become part of a higher position. He was mostly concerned about protecting his reputation. Because Sir Gawain was so concerned about his reputation, he tells a lie by leaving out the green girdle when talking to the host.
Even though Beowulf is quite the hero, he is also illustrated as being extremely prideful. During the Anglo-Saxon period, character traits that were most common for a hero is a rather egoistical and boastful which Beowulf has. He is more interested in his honor as a hero that he is even willing to take on any task without a real fear of death. The poem explores his heroism in two separate phases, the younger Beowulf and the older one, and through three different, but increasingly difficult conflicts with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. These time periods in his life, correlated with two contrasting standards of integrity.