My body, but for your blood, is barren of worth; And tis I have asked for this folly not fit
for a King. These are the words of a true hero. One who is willing to sacrifice his own
existence for the life of another. These are the words and actions of Sir Gawain, a
character from the beloved British tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Beowulf,
another character from an ancient British epic entitled, Beowulf, is also portrayed as a
hero. But Beowulfs heroism factor does not even compare to Sir Gawains. The
difference between Beowulf and Sir Gawain, is that Sir Gawain is a real hero, and
Beowulf just thinks he is.
The two heroes can be compared in many ways. A major comparison would be
their physical characteristics. Beowulf is mighty, the strongest man ever. Sir Gawain is
honorable, a brave and true knight. Beowulf only happens to be strong on the outside.
But Sir Gawain, along with his muscular build, contains a strong and stable heart.
Sir Gawain and Beowulfs morals and values can not be compared so easily,
though. The two heroes ethics contrast each other greatly. Beowulf seems to have little
morals that he lives by. His pride in himself and loyalty to his country are surely
characteristics of a hero, but it seems throughout the whole epic poem he boasts about
how wonderful he is, which was one of the main reasons I did not like him. Sir Gawain
never shows a sign of arrogance, only selflessness, honesty, and his loyalty to the code of
Beowulf almost seems barbaric, going out to conquer the monster so he can add
to his list of over-exaggerated achievements. Sir Gawain sticks to his word, and seeks out
the Green Knight as promised, like a true hero would.
There is no doubt that Beowulf has the history and accomplishments of a hero. He
drove five giants into chains, and defeated the man-eating swamp creature, Grendel. But
in Beowulfs story there is not one line in which he shows the strengths of his own heart.
Of course we can argue this against Sir Gawain, saying that he did not give the green
girdle to his host as he promised. But Sir Gawain did refuse to accept the hosts wife, and
he does give the dagger to his host also. Sir Gawain also kept true to his vow to find the
Green Knight and receive his beheading. Both Sir Gawain and Beowulf have fights they
have won, but Sir Gawain has fears that he overcame to keep his promise.
Both Beowulf and Sir Gawain were terrific warriors, and both of their stories were
entertaining. But Sir Gawains story stuck out due to its truth, and the role model it
presented. Beowulfs story just seemed like any childrens tale with a clich hero. Sir
Gawains actions, words, and honor have made him a greater hero than Beowulf could
ever have tried to be.