Beowulf and Sir Gawain's Heroism, as a Literary Archetype.

Essay by hayloUniversity, Bachelor'sA, July 2003

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In examination of literature, one may notice many different and reoccurring archetypes that give shape to many of our favorite characters in history and the present. These archetypes often follow patterns of similarity, but can be most interesting because of their variances. One of the most prevalent archetypes in literature, throughout history is "The Hero", and the basic character traits which a hero may posses. Although different societies may reveal their own individual ideologies through the characteristics of their heroes, the hero and the hero's journey are two of the unifying features of literature that can be found across all cultures, and has defined much of the literature in human history. This myth occurs so frequently in literature that readers often can predict the outcome of novels based on it. Upon analysis of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight and Beowulf, I noticed the archetypal heroic qualities characters Sir Gawain and Beowulf posses.

These character's qualities are contrastable because of different societal influence and time frame in which they were written; yet the qualities are also quite comparable due to their basic structure. Heroism, as a literary archetype, can be defined by distinctive bravery, honor, sense of duty, and adherence to the given society's code of behavior, where the hero experiences a personal journey and the inevitability of human imperfections.

Beowulf's bravery is evident when he shows such immense courage upon being faced with the challenge of protecting King Hrothgar and his people against Grendel and Grendel's mother in Beowulf. He doesn't just take on the challenging task, but he does it with strength with persistence, in spite of all the stories he hears about Grendel, he still fights the beast without any hesitation, showing the great strength in his heroism. "Stoutness of heart, bravery not banishment, must have brought...