Examples Of Heroism In Beowulf

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Heroes have always been a part of the human caricature. Although, these heroes have not always been categorized in a similar way. Ideas about heroism changed from the Anglo-Saxon period through the Middle English period by the hero becoming a man with characteristics other than being brave. First, as the reader can view in Beowulf, a hero is someone that is a well-spoken, stronger-than-life, and an invulnerable man. Demonstrated in lines 197-203, Beowulf (the hero of the Anglo-Saxon period) is described as the “mightiest” man on Earth; he is also considered “highborn” and “powerful.” These are some of the necessary traits a hero needs to the Anglo-Saxons. Also, this hero must be a generous person; when the honorable Hrothgar needs a protector…show more content…
To illustrate, the perfect example of a hero was a knight that practiced chivalry, which the reader understands as a fine example, is the honorable Sir Gawain. This Middle English hero practices bravery in sacrificing himself instead of the “brave, bold men” to the Green Knight’s game, as seen in lines 348-355. He is truthful and honorable in his following through with his promise to the Green Knight; so much so that he travels a “grim quest” to find where the Green Knight lives. He is met against “long dark nights” where he is alone, hungry, and with no one to hear him but “our Lord in heaven” (lines 691-696). Sir Gawain also shows gentleness when he does not force the Lady to have sexual relations with him, in view of the fact that “such heavy handedness” is not allowed where he lives; this shows that the hero of the Middle English period did not rape and pillage the way some heroes would in the Anglo-Saxon period. The only time Sir Gawain could not be viewed as honorable is whilst playing the last part of the game with his host. Sir Gawain does not give the Host the girdle that the Host’s wife gave him; but only because Sir Gawain is told this “green silk girdle trimmed with gold” will save his life when he comes against the Green Knight. At the end, Sir Gawain shows he is humble since he is “shocked” and “ashamed” at having kept the girdle from the Host only because his “greed” took over him. Here is where the major difference between Beowulf and Sir Gawain comes in: Sir Gawain admits his “sin” and wears the girdle as a “sign of my sin” by wearing the girdle as a sash
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