Expository Writing Assignment
Comparison / Contrast
Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Both the Anglo–Saxon epic poem Beowulf, and the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight describe a heroic ideal proved in the battle. The first, Beowulf, is dated back as far as the 8th century ad. Sir Gawain and the Green knight was created five centuries later, in 14th Century, when the Alliterative revival in English literature turned back to the ideals and literary forms of Anglo–Saxon poems. Sir Gawain and the Green knight is very much alike Beowulf in the verse form and narrative style, it has similar conflict and it also celebrates the victory of fearless and brave heroes. But despite all similarities of these two literary masterpieces, they are different. Time changes ideals. Different time periods and societies have different ideals and values, and these two poems serve as a perfect example of this fact.
The epic of Beowulf is the highest achievement of Old English literature that inherits the Germanic heroic tradition. Like most European legends of that time it confronts its hero, Beowulf, with evil. The evil is represented in a poem by a supernatural creature, Grendel. Beowulf comes from a land far away to rescue a civilization from this threat. Beowulf is of noble birth; he is loyal to his people and his king, “My people have said … that my duty was to go to the Danes’ Great king”, (Jovanovich B., p.15, 150). He is fearless in protecting his people and the whole world as “mighty protector of men” (Jovanovich B., p.19, 310). Beowulf is a true believer in fate, he says that “God must decide Who will be given to death’s cold grip” (Jovanovich B., p.15, 174), but he relies on his strength and the ideal he fights for, too. Beowulf knows that Grendel is not afraid of any weapons and he is ready to face the challenge barehanded. “… my hands Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life Against the monster” (...