Beowulf And Sir Gawain: An Archetypal Analysis

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In literature, heroes or protagonists frequently indicate society’s values through their culture. Beowulf and Sir Gawain’s characters are revealed through their decisions and actions. Ultimately, their decisions and actions define the concerns and ideals of their corresponding time period. As these heroes face many tribulations in their folk epic, the reader actively follows alongside them, learning more about their culture ideals, societal norms, and their duties to their people. In the Middle Ages, for instance, contain various cultural identities that differ from the Anglo-Saxon Period. As both heroes follow a detailed archetypal analysis as outlined by Joseph Campbell in his Hero with a Thousand Faces, each hero’s values shift after enduring…show more content…
When the speaker discusses how Beowulf “was the mightiest man on earth, high-born and powerful,” and that “there was no one like him,” further proves that his identity as the strongest man on earth, traces back to the ruggedness and power-driven his society seems to be. In addition, Beowulf’s value of ambition can be seen when the speaker says, “He announced his plan: to sail the swan’s road and search out that king…” This line adds teh effect that he knows what he wants to do and how he plans to accomplish it. While other heroes in stories begin a quest with no real plan, this only creates more chaos for those type of characters. Therefore, Beowulf’s preparedness clearly reflects his value of ambition. One could also argue that saving “famous prince who needed defenders” further emphasizes Beowulf’s heroic character and pride. Delete this line…show more content…
The initiation is when a hero’s chance presents itself after gaining more perspective on the situation. Beowulf presents his grand speech to King Wrothgar, speaking of how he would defend the king’s people even if it’s the last thing he does. Wrothgar replies to Beowulf: “Beowulf my friend, you have travelled here to favour us with help and to fight for us...Time and again, when the goblets passed and seasoned fighters got flushed with beer they would pledge themselves to protect Heorot and wait for Grendel with whetter swords...the flood of the mead hall would be slick with slaughter. And so the died.” (lines 457-487) In this scene, Wrothgar emphasizes here the great task that Beowulf wishes to undertake by vividly describing the deaths of the past warriors. However, this tactic does not scare the warrior, Beowulf because one can see that the hero’s pride is too great to back down, especially if no one has been able to defeat Grendel. As Wrothgar realizes this, he says to Beowulf, “Now take your place at the table, relish the triumph of heroes to your heart’s content.” (Lines 489-490) Beowulf’s perspective on Grendel’s ferociousness broadens after Wrothgar speaks to him, and this begins the initiation archetype. After many failed attempts of heroes trying to kill Grendel, Wrothgar questions whether or not Beowulf’s strength can do the job. By accepting this challenge to defeat Grendel, Beowulf must prove he demonstrates
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