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Comparison and Contrast Paper: Beowulf Vs. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
There are a number of characters that can be created by the author depending on the massage that they want to pass. Both Beowulf and Sir Gawain are the main heroic characters in the ancient Greece. They bare such qualities as famous, come from noble families and may at the end bare a tragic fall. They are said to be brave, gallant, and strong and can bare supernatural powers. They are skilled men who are victims of perfection. They rule a nation or state and are believed and given much attention by their subjects. Heroes are therefore supposed to be idealizing people since they face challenges and temptations and should be able to deal wisely with them (Woolf 12). Tragic heroes later come to a fall. The fall may be caused by their close friends or relatives who are conversant with their secretive lives in detail. The lives of these characters therefore help us to draw their similarities and differences.
Both Gawain and Beowulf are great leaders. They are liked and loved by the people they lead. They are both brave and loyal leaders. They respect their kings and kingdoms. This is by following the set doctrines and ways.
The fact that the two characters represent good makes them similar. The author presents them in a way to show goodness. For instance when Beowulf fights with the terrible creatures the monsters and wins the author is so happy and congratulates him for that comments him and says the Beowulf will always defeat the evil one (Greenblatt17). The same also happens for Sir Gawain and the monster the Knight. Even after he is defeated the author takes his side and claims that when we fail and become true to ourselves then the goodness in us pronounces us as winners.
The thematic concerns of the two tragic heroes are similar. In both works the audience meets a well-shaped and brought out hero by the author. The heroic figure is brought out by the physical, emotional and psychological prowess endowed in them. This enables them to be well equipped for the tasks and challenges ahead of them. They both command leadership and fight winning battles. They also comprehend heroic behaviors and epic journey.
There are major differences that can be highlighted from the lives of sir Gawain and Beowulf’. Beowulf is mainly known for his bravery while sir Gawain is mainly known for his honor. Sir Gawain’s honor is best shown when he succeeds greatly in his search for the green knight. Beowulf also shows his bravery in killing Grendel’s mother and also when he fought with the robust dragon.
Sir Gawain and Beowulf also differ in the responsibilities they take. Beowulf is a hero while sir Gawain is a knight. They bare different sources of inspiration on how to go about the battles. Beowulf follows the heroic doctrines that pay more attention to honor, ability to be strong and courageous while sir Gawain follows those of soldiers.
They each represent the values of their culture. Beowulf represent the spirit of the warriors which was more concerned with bravery, physical strength and loyalty while Gawain represents the ways of the soldiers which mostly emphases on courage. This difference therefore is clearly illustrated in the way the two heroes fight the evil monsters. Beowulf defeats the monsters and wins his people fifty years of peace before the robust dragon. Gawain’s case is different because he is defeated by the monsters and starts a personal fight with his inner self.
As the story comes to an end, Gawain is a failure, while Beowulf emerges a success. Gawain fails in the fact that he is in such of perfection although he had done what had not been done by any other soldier or were willing to do. Beowulf gets victory from the fact that he fought successful battles, defeating the monsters and won liberation of his people for fifty years.
Both heroes differ in the way they acquire their tragic flaws and hamartia. Sir Gawain as a hero gains his flaw from his concerns for his dear life. He loved himself and valued his own life and therefore he could never gain courage to fight against his own reputation. The tragic flaw of Beowulf came from his own excessive pride. Beowulf kept on fighting monsters although he was very old. He wanted fame from his subjects and was also characterized by greed and lust.
Sir Gawain differs from Beowulf in the fact that he is a believer In the Christian faith while Beowulf believes in the pagan history. He only believes in fate and knows that it is only fate that will unfold and testify. Nothing can change fate. Sir Gawain believes in Christ the power and through him he can be change things. He therefore believes in brotherly love, chastity and courtesy unlike Beowulf who is undisturbed of whatever fate is placed on him. He has nothing to do with it because it must come to pass.
Greenblatt, Stephen, gen. ed. “The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th. ed.Vol A. New York: Norton, 2012
Woolf, Virginia.” The Mark on the wall.” “ The Norton Anthology of English Literature”. 9th ed. Vol F. Stephen Greenblatt. New York. Norton, 2012
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