Heroism: an Early Literary Disguise for Social Review

1167 Words5 Pages
To be recognized as a hero by your peers is an achievement that few achieve. When one is appointed a hero, it is because he or she is admired, successful, and emulated. The characteristics of the hero are therefore the fulfilments of that society’s ideal individual. A hero serves both the common good while remaining consistent with his or her system of beliefs. Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature provide great examples of heroism. The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf features the development of a warrior Beowulf, whereas the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight depicts a year and a day of Sir Gawain’s epic journey. Beowulf is represented as a hero, in order to inspire societal change while Sir Gawain reflects the justification for the ideology of his society. Anglo-Saxon culture placed a great importance on lineage. The social order was determined through inheritance, triggering the overwhelming acceptance of predestination. Predestination is the belief that one’s destiny is controlled through no will of its own and arises due to the lack of mobility between social classes. The Beowulf Poet personifies Beowulf as a representation of free will in order to inspire reform in the social order of the Anglo–Saxon society. Beowulf’s prominence resulted from his father Ecgtheow, who became recognized through his military triumphs. Beowulf’s responsibility to the social order of the Anglo-Saxon society was to embrace the role as a warrior and serve the common good. “I had a fixed purpose when I put to sea…I meant to perform to the uttermost what your people wanted or perish in the attempt.”(Beowulf 632) The more Beowulf emerged himself in this title, the more overwhelmingly successful he was in defeating his enemies, attaining wealth and gaining notoriety. Conversely, Beowulf was capable of abandoning the blood inheritance system. A conscious choice was

More about Heroism: an Early Literary Disguise for Social Review

Open Document