The Medieval Hero : Beowulf And Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

The Medieval Hero : Beowulf And Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

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The Medieval Hero: Beowulf and Sir Gawain
According to Joseph Campbell 's interpretation of a hero, “The hero travels through the dream-like world of adventure where he must undergo a series of tests” (Monomyth). In “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” the reader encounters two completely different heroes, both reflecting the culture of their respective time periods—Anglo Saxon and Anglo Norman. Both of these characters face various challenges, just as Campbell says a hero must. Beowulf is first faced with defeating Grendel; upon his victory, he finds he must also eliminate the threat of Grendel 's mother. The reader is told that Beowulf continues to face challenge after challenge throughout his life until his final encounter with a dragon, an encounter that ends his life. Sir Gawain 's challenge is slightly different. He, along with the rest of King Arthur 's court, finds himself challenged by a green knight to deal a killing stroke with an ax only to take a return stroke in one year and one day. During his journey to fulfill the terms of this challenge, his honesty is tested by a lord who offers hospitality for a few days. Being created by two different cultures, one might expect Beowulf and Sir Gawain to contrast from one another greatly. However, while “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” were written in two distinct time periods and therefore suggest different heroic values, such as chivalry in Gawain 's story and warrior prowess in Beowulf 's, the two heroes exhibit several similar traits such as a bold undertaking, a code of honor, and an Achilles ' heel.
Sir Gawain 's heroism lies deeply in the idea of chivalry, requiring him to conduct himself in a polite and proper manner—a quality the reader witn...


... middle of paper ...


... to the advances of time. As a result, the Anglo-Norman hero placed more emphasis on knightly conduct than upon winning countless wars and battles. However, looking at the similarities between Beowulf and Sir Gawain, one can see the similarities between the two cultures reflected in the honor, weaknesses, and struggles that the two characters experience.
Works Cited
"Beowulf."The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 1. Ed. Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H. Abrams. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 41-108. Print.
"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight."The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 1. Ed. Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H. Abrams. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 186-238. Print.
"The Monomyth: Birth—Monomyth Website, ORIAS, UC Berkeley."The Monomyth: Birth -- Monomyth Website, ORIAS, UC Berkeley. University of California, Berkeley, n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

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