Sir Gawain: What makes a true Hero?

Essay by BukawSistahHigh School, 12th gradeA+, September 2003

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In the world today men and women that have no true social value, or values, are lionized. The rank of hero is assigned so freely that most of our idols today are in reality people not to be emulated. Sir Gawain is not one of these people. He balances focus on overcoming both physical challenges and many moral challenges; and this balance is what makes him a true hero.

A strong balance of character is an innate quality to any hero. This idea of a well-rounded person is not a new one. An example of a common realization of this was during the renaissance period. Society started to realize that the ability to utilize a sword does not make them a good or happy person. It is admirable for a person to be strong and brave, it is also admirable for a person to be loyal, intelligent and humble. It is the combination of these characteristics that make a person a hero.

Gawain is determined to be one of these men. He makes comment to this as he leaves Camelot to find the Green Knight; Gawain remarks, "In destinies sad or merry, True men can but try." (565) Gawain's statement is not merely profound sentiment, useful even today as a measure of a man's mettle. Also, with it coming as early as it does in Part II of the poem, it could be considered foreshadowing of how Gawain's tale may end. It tells a reader that Gawain means to do his level best in his grand endeavor and if in but one small way he should fail, do not persecute him until considering how a different man may have fared.

Sir Gawain clearly meets the requirements of a great warrior; which is one of the components that define Gawain...