Trouthe vs Strength:The Differences Between Two Heroic Ideal

Length: 3 Pages 797 Words

The epic story of Beowulf was composed over 1200 years ago when beliefs and ideals were much different than that of today. The heroes of this time sought out fame and glory and would acts that brought them the most fame and glory. The more battles you won and the more you showed your generosity to your people for supporting you, the more fame and glory you would achieve. Beowulf was a man of great power who was known for his massive strength, “in a handgrip harder than anything/he had ever encountered in any man/on the face of the earth” (750-751). Beowulf’s encounter with Grendel would be the beginning of a long reign of fame among the Danes. He had saved them from “a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark,” (86-87) that would attack Heorot out of envy after being condemned to a life of solitude. Beowulf further proved his strength in the fight with Grendel’s mother who came to avenge the death of her son, as he had to travel to the unknown and assured his people that he did not fear death. He told his people, “when a warrior is gone,/that will be his best and only bulwark” (1388-1389). Beowulf shows that there is no shame in dying and that you will Continue...

His heroism was based on a principle that was held very sacred during this time period. He further puts his life into the hands of fate: "what occurs on the wallbetween the two of us will turn out as fate,overseer of men, decides (2525-2527). Beowulf seeks to enhance his glory by insisting that none of his men come to his aid, he will conquer the dragon on his own. Sir Gawain would be challenged for his love of life versus his fear for his own death. The Green Knight offers up yet another challenge to Sir Gawain, a challenge of winnings, for three days whatever one gets throughout the day; he will give it to the other. The first morning, Gawain earns a kiss from the lady and so delivers it to the Green Knight that evening. Once again, Beowulf is victorious in the battle with Grendel's mother and returns to his people for many years until he faces his final foe, a fire-breathing dragon. As the Green Knight simply nicks the neck of Sir Gawain he reminds him "Yet you lacked, sir, a little loyalty there,but the cause was not cunning, nor courtship either,but that you loved your own life; the less, then, to blame (2366-2368). Sir Gawain accepts this challenge and "brought it down deftly upon the bare neck...cut the flesh cleanly...the head was hewn off and fell to the floor (423-427). During this time, a man's word was his true test of strength. Sir Gawain is challenged by the Green Knight that they will exchange blows; Sir Gawain can take a swing with the axe at his head but must return the same favor to the Green Knight in exactly one year's time. But the third day, the Green Knight does not receive the gifts of that day as Sir Gawain had received the magical green sash of his morning visitor, which protects any man who wears it from death. By losing one's life, you are in fact gaining life. Sir Gawain is awoken each morning by the seductive wife of the Green Knight.