Beowulf Compare And Contrast Gawain And Portia

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Brian Baglioni
Professor Tague
BRL: Epic to Novel-01
The Notion of a Hero:
Comparison and Contrast of Beowulf, Gawain and Portia

A “hero” can mean many things; it is subject to interpretation especially when taken into account that what defines a person as a hero is dependent on his or her relationship to the society in which he or she lives. In general, heroes strive for some form of perfection, to be something greater than they already are. They wish to help the people around them in whatever ways they can, often sacrificing their time and effort to do so. Beowulf, Sir Gawain and Portia are three characters that contain within them the inherent qualities of a hero. They are all heroes in that they willingly rise up to the occasion …show more content…

“The captain of evil discovered himself in a handgrip

harder than anything he had ever encountered in any manon the face of the earth. Every

bone in his body quailed and recoiled, but he could not escape. He was desperate to flee

to his den and hide with the devil 's litter, for in all his days he had never been clamped or

cornered like this. (749-756, Beowulf) As seen in his fight against Grendel, his strength is

“mythological” in scope and ultimately superior to Grendel’s. Beowulf is not really

tested intellectually per se; he is not the subject of someone else’s deceptive practices like

Gawain is or subject to social/ethical problems that Portia is embroiled in. He is a hero in

the sense that he is called into action and responds willingly and enthusiastically without

retort; he is unmoved in his pursuit of the objective placed upon him. "Often, for

undaunted courage, fate spares the man it has not already marked." (572-573, Beowulf) In

other words, if fate does not intervene, a means to an end can be achieved via courage

and strength alone. This is Beowulf’s outlook on the notion of a hero. Even after death it

is surmised that he buries the treasure with him so that it would not corrupt anyone …show more content…

A hero in this context would not employ physical means of survival like Beowulf or Gawain did because the dangers present aren’t of a combative nature but rather an intellectual framework involving deception, justice and mercy. The origin of the main conflict stems from an ethical dilemma, of debts that are yet to be paid and does not necessarily condone the use of physical aptitude to achieve such means like it does for Beowulf and Gawain. Portia is the heroine of The Merchant of Venice and she transforms the notion of a hero into something more than just a prominent, masculine entity or force. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “The hero […] is the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations to the generally valid, normally human form” (20, Joseph Campbell). This is precisely what she does in the court procession by turning a problematic social situation into a solution that not only resolves the main conflict of Antonio’s debt but also displays her capacity for compassion, mercy and

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