Sir Gawain's Caution Against Pride In British Literature

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Caution against pride seems to be a frequent theme of British Literature through all ages. The likelihood of characters to think they are not destined by the boundaries of average humans. Today I will focus on four different literary works who portray this caution against pride. The literary works can be found in the books, The Longman Anthology of British Literature the Middle Ages and The Longman Anthology of British Literature the Early Modern Period. I will discuss characters from different periods including , Old English with the story of “Beowulf”, Middle English with the story of “Sir Gawain”, and from the Early Modern Period, “Paradise Lost” and “Twelfth Night”.
In the Epic Hero Poem known as “Beowulf” beginning on page 36, where the reader is introduces to a Hero by the name of Beowulf who possesses humility as well as modesty, but like many human beings does demonstrate his pride. There are many instances where the book suggest a caution against pride, ill name a few. For instance, on lines 677 he speaks of his strength and says it is “at least as greatly as Grendel”. Beowulf also announces that he will not be cutting Grendel’s life short with a slashing sword because it
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Gawain suffers from many sins like lack of faith, dishonesty, and most of all pride. On page 266 is says, ”but Gawain wore the Girdle no for its great value… but to save himself”(P4:2037-2041). This shows a caution of pride because Gawain could lose his life but he is trusting in a magical Girdle that the Green Knights wife presented to him. When he accepts the green girdle, he believes he is saving his own life; but the gift marks his fear of death and his lack of faith. In the end he ends up embarrassed because it all seems to be a set up. He later says that he will continue to wear the Girdle to remind him that “man can conceal sin but not dissever it”
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