Comparing Sir Gawain and Beowulf

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The most important component in both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf are the central characters. There are three basic characteristics of Sir Gawain and Beowulf: their true identity as individuals and what they truly make of it, how others feel towards them, and their actions that define their personality as heroic characters. When these three qualities are in sync with each other, it is simply easier to see the characters in a much more realistic perspective. Although Beowulf is more self-centered character, whereas, Gawain is more humane; both characters go through dramatic changes in the beginning and in the end of their quests.

Sir Gawain, the central character of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, is the tale of a brave knight whose rise to greatness begins with a challenge given by a mysterious green warrior. When his beheading game was rejected by the Knights of the Round Table, the Green Knight taunted them by stating “What, is this Arthur’s house.../that everyone talks of in so many kingdoms? /where are now your arrogance and your victories, / your fierceness and wrath and your great speeches?/now is the revel and the renoun of the Round Table/ overwalt wyth a worde of on wyghes speche, for al dares for drede withoute dynt schewed!”(Fitt 1.309-315). At this point Arthur, angrily, decides to take the challenge. Gawain gives the reader a glimpse into his character by describing himself and the reason as to why he should be the one to take on the challenge. With respect to Arthur, Gawain states “the weakest of them, I know, and the dullest-minded/ so my death would be least loss, if truth should be told/ only because you are my uncle am I to be praised/ no virtue I know in myself but your blood” (Fitt 1. 354-25...

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...asks in very masculine approaches which include: skilled use of weapons, invoking pain and instilling fear. The possession of the sword that Beowulf uses to kill her expresses a more masculine side of Grendel’s mother. The poet states that she possesses a sword that any warrior would dream of having. However, both women’s intention, whether direct or indirect, is to inhibit the hero from fulfilling his deed, as well as, put their courage to the test. In both poems, the women are portrayed as evil and manipulative. Whether she is sexually conniving or just plain destructive with devilish powers, a woman is described as an enemy like figure of man.

Works Cited

Beowulf. Canada: Broadview Press, 2009

Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf a new translation. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Seventh printing, 2000. Print.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Canada: Broadview Press, 2009
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