The Ideal Man Across Time: Beowulf or Sir Gawain? Essay

The Ideal Man Across Time: Beowulf or Sir Gawain? Essay

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Throughout the ages stories have been passed down through the generations by many cultures around the world that gives their interpretation of what is the “ideal man.” Some say it is the devotion of Romeo, or the charm of the prince in Cinderella, that describes what the ideal man should be. In other words, these traits are what women revere most that makes a man worth knowing and pursuing a relationship with. There is no one agreed upon trait of what makes a man ideal in this world, or in literature. The ideal man is subjective in text, such as in the epic poem Beowulf or the renown Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, is dependent upon the individual, and the time period in which the text is written or the reader’s lives.
In the Old English poem Beowulf which was originally composed around the time of the early Middle Ages the title character embodies the ideal man of that age, to give glory to God above all things, bravery and to achieve glory. There is no doubt Beowulf is a Christian text. Beowulf, and the author, constantly thank God and praise him for their success and gladly let Him lead them where He wills. At this time this was the example of a perfect male. Lines such as 927 “First and foremost, let the Almighty Father be thanked for this sight” (Beowulf 53) are an example of this. Hrothgar is thanking God first for Beowulf driving Grendel away wounded where he died alone. Beowulf is thanked second as he was granted his success by God which he accepts and is even expected in the Middle Ages. A man who is unselfish and knows power is not in their mortal hands, but in something greater than himself, was a trait that was admired above all others. Throughout the text Beowulf proves his bravery without a doubt with his battles...


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... brave enough to go for what they want and battle court rooms or disease catch a women’s attention. Other traits that have changed with the times but are still prized today are a healthy appearance, wealth, and people skills.
Throughout the centuries the perception of what is the ideal male changes and is subjective to the times. Depending on the individual, where they come from and their environment, or the time period, if it is in a text, what makes a man worth knowing changes all the time and continues to do so.


Works Cited
Beowulf. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages. 8th ed. Vol. A. Eds. Stephan Greenblatt et al. New York: Norton, 2006. 34-100. Print.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages. 8th ed. Vol. A. Eds. Stephan Greenblatt et al. New York: Norton, 2006. 160-213. Print.

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