Short Paper (3/20)
April 4, 2013
“Cultural values defined in ‘Beowulf’ and ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ ”
The cultural values depicted in “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” are those of courage, honor, strength and humility among many others. Now, while exploring the ethos of the cultures in these pieces of literature the reader can deduce that each value means something different. What defines courage (and other values) in “Beowulf” differs from the definition of courage in “Sir Gawain” in many ways including the struggles Beowulf himself faced with Grendel, in “Sir Gawain” with the encounter with the lord’s wife, among other events in both ...view middle of the document...
Beowulf turns into this courageous, wise leader, and it’s shown in his ability to lead, for example when he gives orders, "If this combat kills me, take care of my young company, my comrades in arms. And be sure also, my beloved Hrothgar, to send Hygelac the treasures I received.” This quote shows his strength, courage, and fearlessness to go into battle. All of these values coincide with the heroic code of the society in which this epic poem takes place. Not only does Beowulf also define strength and courage, but also humility. He is described as generous, which in reality ties in with all of the values he holds and defines of the heroic code. Beowulf was every bit of a hero, and in this epic poem, all of these cultural values are defined in this character and his struggles and encounters.
Next, in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” the readers see values such as honor and humility (like in “Beowulf”). This poem is romance, not a typical love story we know to be romance today, but a tale of knights on an adventurous quest (Source A). This epic is a lot different than “Beowulf” and describes more Christian values than anything. One night, the lord’s wife comes into his chambers and tries to tempt and seduce him. In response, Gawain states that he is “unworthy” while she is trying to force herself on him. In this quote, you can see the humbleness and modesty Gawain shows, as he doesn’t describe himself as a highly man or worthy of her. With this being said, you see humility defined clearly as meekness and modesty, much like the definition of humility we have today.
Lastly, we have the honor, which is defined in both poems. Honor in modern-day terms means “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions” (Source B). For example, in
The third struggle that Beowulf faces in which he returns to Geatland, honor is clarified. He goes to the aids of others, makes the right decisions, and fights other people's battles besides his own. Now, when he is offered the throne he refuses to take away the throne from the child, although there...