“The Role of the Hero in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”
Beowulf is the longest Anglo-Saxon epic poem in Old English that recounts the deeds and adventures of a legendary heroic character. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a medieval romance that portrays the adventures of a knight who deals with a quest following the chivalric code. This essay focuses on Beowulf and Sir Gawain, the reasons why they are considered heroes, and how they embody the important values for their cultures. Good start and clear blend of both poems
Frye classifies fictive heroes in five types by their power of action. Three of those five types are relevant to this essay,
Type I: If superior in kind both to other men and to the environment of other men, the hero is a divine being, and the story about him will be a myth in the common sense of a story about a god.
TypeII: If superior in degree to other men and to his environment, the hero is the typical hero ofromance, whose actions are marvelous but who is himself identified as a human being. The hero of romance moves in a world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended…
Type III: If superior in degree to other men but not to his natural environment, the hero is a leader. He has authority, passions, and powers of expression far greater than ours but…is subject both to social criticism and to the order of nature.
Features of the three types of heroes can be traced in Beowulf´s character and in Sir Gawain’s as well. Although not coming from a divine origin, Beowulf is portrayed with some mythological aspects of the hero type I, as when at the court of King Hygelac, the narrator says:“There was no one else like him alive.”; or when King Hrothgar recognizes Beowulf through the tales of seamen that had known him: “[…] a thane, they declared, with the strength of thirty in the grip of each hand”.On the contrary, Sir Gawain is portrayed as plainly human, a young knight whose chivalry is tested as from the...