Not unlike our own culture, the culture in medieval and Anglo-Saxon times celebrated the hero. A hero was (and is) a man who exemplified the attributes treasured by his culture, such as honor, valor, and other characteristics. Two solid examples of heroes are Beowulf and Sir Gawain, perhaps the epitomes of heroism during their respected times. Each man displayed his own "style" of heroism, and both endured separate quests and challenges. A universal definition of the word hero is nearly impossible to establish, because of its flexibility; every culture and period has its own idea of what a hero truly is.
Behind every brave and honored hero is a reason. A quest or endeavor of some type is this driving force in most all hero stories, and the journey that is embarked upon can often tell us about the hero himself and of the culture that celebrates him. In Beowulf, the hero has heard of the horrible Grendel in Hrothgar's kingdom, so he quickly gathers his best men and journeys forth, eager to fight the beast.
Although completing this feat will gain him a large amount of prestige and recognition, it is witnessed here that he strives to help a people that he does not know, a vital point in heroism even today. Sir Gawain has a quest that proves to the reader his honesty and loyalty. He has made a promise to his King and his fellow knights, and even though he knew (or thought that he knew, at least) that he would ultimately sacrifice his life because of it, he took the long, lonely journey as a noble man. Beowulf's story is one of brawn, muscle, and the edge of a sharp sword. He is witnessed demolishing Grendel, slaughtering that beast's mother, and slaying a ferocious (and, within the realm of hero tales, cliche) dragon. Sir Gawain, on the other hand, is truly on a quest that will test his emotions, his intellect, and his nobility. Outstanding physical ability is not even necessary for the story, albeit the swin…
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Heroism in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knights. (2018, Feb 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/heroism-in-beowulf-and-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-essays/