The Roles of Women in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are two main characters that have many heroic qualities. They are both brave, strong, and skilled men that the only thing they seek is to be great leaders for their people. Beowulf is a warrior of a pagan tribe who is shown as a hero combining stoic Christian ideals, traditional heroic values, and Germanic values. He is called the strongest and all-around greatest fighter who spends his days fighting any evil that threatens the land of his people or any other kingdoms. Beowulf’s goals are always to protect his people and other kingdoms’ and free them from any trouble that may be causing them fear. For example, when he traveled to the kingdom of Danes to fight the monster Grendel descendant of Cain. And his mother as well shows a lot of courage and admiration from his people and the people from Danes. “The man who had lately landed among them, proud and sure, had purged the hall, kept it from harm; he was happy with his night work and the courage he had shown”. (825) This quote explains how Beowulf had finally defeated and healed and relieved huge distress, unremitting humiliations, the hard fate the people had to undergo when Grendel was still alive.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the nephew of King Arthur’s and he is known for his chivalry. Sir Gawain is an honest, humble, loyal, religious knight hero that has integrity. His heroism is more personal for his own benefit to keep his integrity and loyal for the respect to his King. In this poem he faces to test his own honesty as a knight and faces three challenges from the Green Knight which one of them he fails by lying to the Green Knight which he admits having kissed his wife, but doesn’t mention he had stolen a belt, too. And to earn back his honor as a Knight, Sir Gawain must fight the Green Knight. This fight is very intense until the Green Knight cuts Sir Gawin when they meet up to fight for the first time, which inspires him to confess that he lied.
In the Beowulf poem religion references to God are not as obvious as in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Hrothgar and Beowulf often speak of God as though their religion is monotheistic. But in many of the quotes given in this poem, there is influence of Christianity values and reliance on God, especially during the battles Beowulf fights it shows how he implies God to help him and give him the strength to win the battle. For example; O flower of warriors, beware of that trap. Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part, eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride, for a brief while your strength is in bloom, but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow illness or the sword to lay you low… (1758-1763). It describes how Hrothgar is telling Beowulf to abandon his pride and his want for people to honor him so Beowulf can focus on how to obtain ‘eternal rewards’, such as enteral life or going to heaven, which are both major Christian ideas. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight poem it provided a deeper impression in using religion. Christianity ideas appear everywhere in the poem on the verge of despair during his quest, Sir Gawain prays to God and Mary to help him and protect him from any evil and to help him win these battles he is going to face.
In both poems Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight they both describes societies that have very prevalent views towards the role of women in the poems. And these views mainly focused on women’s roles in social matters, which often are not negative views. Both poems describe their women being seen in a temptress-like way, using their sexuality to get what they want. The women in these poems were seen more as evil who challenged the men’s beliefs, making the men feel threatened by them. Like in Beowulf’s poem he is threatened by Grendel’s mother and she is hated and is seen as an evil person by everyone, because the only thing she tries to do is to save her son because she loves him. And in the poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the wife of the Green Knight it’s the threated to Sir Gawain because of the mistake he did with her it almost cost him to lose his entire life and his loyalty as a Knight.
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