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Beowulf vs Sir Gawain: Compare and Contrast Essay

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Heroes come in several ways, however, characteristics such as boldness, honor, and devotion, return as subjects all through the identity of a legend. The characters of Beowulf and Sir Gawain, each speak to an adaptation of a legend, however, each comes across quite in an unexpected way in their own account. A hero can be described to genuinely succeed if he remains steady to his respectable values when put in any circumstance that crosses his way. These two stories are two of the foremost vital literary works in British history. The relationship between the part kinship plays in both the works Beowulf & Sir Gawain and the Green Knight come with numerous correspondences alongside numerous differing qualities. Among these two sonnets, Beowulf and Sir Gawain confront enormous challenges as heroes on their travel.

Beowulf and Gawain are shown as two terrific leaders. Sir Gawain hesitates to take up the challenge of the Green Knight; he’s concerned about his future. Finally, he only embraces the responsibility of defending the life and reputation of King Arthur. ‘Furthermore, said the master, ‘let us make a pact: Here’s a wager: what I win in the woods will be yours, and what you gain while I’m gone you will give to me.” (Sir Gawain, lines 1105-1107). Sir Gawain hears these words for the Green Knight and thinks about how defending King Arthur is his responsibility, but at the last second accepting the challenge offered by the Green Knight. This event gives off the traits: courage and bravery for fulfilling his agreements with the Lord. Along with Beowulf, he displayed his heroic traits when he executes his promise to Hrothgar to kill “an unnatural birth” Beowulf line 1353) of a monster. He battles Grendel and removes his arm from his body with his bare hands. Grendel then scurries away to soon be found dead in his underwater lair.

Beowulf has all the characteristics of a saint and like Sir Gawain, he is invested in protecting his reputation. Beowulf chose pride over being humble, which Sir Gawain gives off. Beowulf does not know when to stop fighting; even in old age, he is still waging war against evil forces, “In the end, each clan on the outlying coasts Beyond the whale-road had to yield to him and began to pay tribute. That was one good king. (Beowulf, lines 9-11)” This event is a prime example of his selflessness, sacrificial, yet boatsful personality. Sir Gawain was also selfless when he volunteered to behead the Green Knight, sacrificial when he chose to approach the Green Knight at the end of the tale, yet he never boasted or praised himself for these accomplishments.

Beowulf and Sir Gawain make great leaders, however, they are very different in their own ways. Beowulf is eventually concerned with honor, whereas Gawain’s concern lies with his undying soul. Gawain illustrates many aspects of the chivalric knight and heroes, including humility, integrity, devotion, loyalty, and bravery. Even though he is nearly beyond reproach, he makes a single mistake, embracing the lady’s green girdle “God bless you for this gift” (Sir Gawain, line 2429). It distinguishes Beowulf. As Sir Gawain was being blinded by his sins, he wasn’t being fairly honest nor was he fulfilling the terms of the verbal contract with the Green Knight. Sir Gawain later then revealed the truth making him a long-lasting hero. On the contrary, this is where Beowulf differentiates from Gawain: Gawain being able to admit to his sins and acquire goodness, while Beowulf is displayed as

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In these two stories, women are portrayed much differently. In Gawain, there’s a negative viewpoint on women and in Beowulf, women are worshipped and glorified. For example, Lady Bertilak in Gawain puts herself out as a reckless character. During her husband’s absence, she enters Gawain’s bed-chamber and displays herself to Gawain for sex. Gawain wants no part in sleeping with Lady Bertilak, however, he cants make it seem like she’s going to get rejected by him because he doesn’t want to offend her. In Beowulf, Hildeburh succeeds in bringing a peaceful association between the Danes and the Jutes. She returns to her homeland after “son and brother, she lost them both on the battlefield” (Beowulf, lines 1072- 1074), where she continued to be a queen. Hildeburh illustrates the imperative part of the peacemaker, who continues to maintain dependability between her country and her spouse.

Beowulf and Sir Gawain are the finest warriors of those days. Beowulf and Sir Gawain play roles that are very similar as well as very distinctive. These two epics take honor, victory, strength, and bravery into consideration. These thoughts appear in different ways. Beowulf appeared his boldness at each scene of the epic; in expansion to being all bravery, he reflected the quality of culminating heroes as well. Sir Gawain may be a respectable knight reflecting the knight’s soul, faithful and true, and most of all, respectful.

Frequently Asked Questions

In What Way is the Character of Sir Gawain Different from Other Epic Heroes such as Beowulf?

The biggest difference between Gawain and Beowulf is the type of challenges they each face. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain is faced with a challenge from a supernatural creature. However, Gawain himself doesn’t have any supernatural powers. The only way he can succeed is by proving his integrity and honesty.

Differences Between Beowulf and Sir Gawain

While both poems have many similarities, there are also some key differences between them that are worth considering.

One of the main differences is the time period in which the poems were written. “Beowulf” is an Old English epic poem, believed to have been written sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries, while “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” was written in Middle English, sometime around the late 14th century.

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Beowulf vs Sir Gawain: Compare and Contrast Essay. (2021, August 10). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
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