The Romantic Hero Vs. The Epic Hero

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The Romantic Hero vs. The Epic Hero How would you describe a hero? Is it one who fights the inevitable and hard times in order to do good for the well-being of another person? A hero can be many different things in many different aspects of life. In old English poetry, the hero is usually more of a fictional character with strengths unknown to man. The hero would fall under two categories epic then later romantic. We see this in both “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. Beowulf is an ideal epic hero of the eighteenth century. In this time and culture, a hero would be defined as a person who is strong and courageous whereas six centuries later, a romantic hero named Sir Gawain, is measured against a moral and Christian ideal of chivalry. While these heroes share some common characteristics, they differ in their motives which drive them to fight, encounters with women, and the role that god plays in their quest. Both Beowulf and Sir Gawain are honorable men. They fight for the honor of their king and their land. Before addressing the people at Herot, Beowulf asks the lord and master if he would graciously allow him to greet him in person and report his errand. Sir Gawain too asks for permission before fighting the Green Knight. He displays great humility towards Arthur by saying, I am the weakest. He would risk his own life instead of placing Arthur at risk. They are both motivated by the wellbeing of their people to fight. Of course Beowulf also fights for the obvious reason, gold. Beowulf accepted the gold for killing the monster that plagued Hrothgar’s kingdom. After Beowulf kills the monster’s mother, he accepts even more golden treasure from the Danes and sails home with his men. While his motives for fighting always seem to be honorable and heroic, some people may see Beowulf as a mercenary. His motives always seem to be honorable and loyal to

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