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Bosold 1

Erin Bosold
Ms. Winter
British Literature, Per. 2
20 October 2015
Beowulf Essay
Perfection, something we as humans crave but is it really something we want or is it just
something that we as humans hate until it turns into an obsession? Beowulf, translated by Burton
Raffel and published in 1000 AD is a tale of an epic hero, meaning that he is predestined by fate
to win the battle, has a mysterious origin, and has no flaws. While, Sir Gawain from Sir Gawain
and the Green Knight translated by John Gardner and published in 1387, is a romantic hero
where he is the same as Beowulf, however he has one flaw. Throughout their stories Sir Gawain
and Beowulf face many obstacles, Beowulf faces Grendel, Grendel's mother, and a fierce dragon,
Sir Gawain a Green Giant. But what is a hero someone who is perfect in every way or is it
someone who is flawed and has to overcome it.
As mentioned before Beowulf is an epic hero, hes also an Anglo-Saxon or Viking.
Vikings are natural very boastful, which could be considered a flaw, but boasting is how Vikings
determined as hero very heroic quality, like the time Beowulf was arguing with Unferth from
the north, and the waves were savages. Creatures/ Who sleep deep in the sea were stirred/ Into
life- and the iron hammered links/ Of my mail shirt, these shining bits of metal/ Woven across
my breast, saved me/ From death. A monster seized, drew me/ Swiftly towards the bottom,
swimming with its claws/ Tight in my flesh. But fate let me/ Find its heart with my sword, hack
myself/ Free; I fought that beasts last battle,/ Left it floating lifeless in the sea(Raffel 289-91)
showing Beowulf as a very strong and courageous man to the Vikings. Sir Gawain however like

stated earlier as well is a romantic hero and does have a flaw which is That sash you wear by
your scabbard belongs to me;/ My own wife gave it to you, as I ought to know./ I know; too, of
your kisses and all your words/ And my wifes advances, for I myself arranged them(Gardner
199-202) to reiterate the story Sir Gawain is a knight of King Arthur who had to face the Green
Knight or Giant, on the way to battle the Green Giant he met this lord who proposed a game.
What the lord brought home from the hunt that day would be Sir Gawains but what Sir Gawain
received he would in turn give to the lord. So while the lord was gone his young wife made
advances towards Sir Gawain and gave him three kisses and sash that would protect him from
death, however though Sir Gawain gave the lord the three kisses he did not give him the sash.
Though Beowulf are different in this one area they are very similar. Beowulf is very
honorable and holy like in his battle against Grendel's Mother For truth and right, Ruler of the
Heavens,/ Once Beowulf wax back on feet and fighting./ Then he saw, hanging on the wall, a
heavy/ Sword, hammered by the giant, strong/ And blessed with their magic, the best of what a
man could lift/ Its carved and decorated length. He drew it/ From its scabbard, broke the chain on
its hilt,/ And then, savage, now, angry/ And desperate, lifted it high over his head/ And struck
with all the strength he had left,/ Caught her in the neck and cut it though,/ Broke bones and all.
Her body fell/ To the floor, lifeless, the sword was wet/ With her blood, and Beowulf rejoiced at
the sight(Raffel 631-45) he shows courage and holiness. Sir Gawain also shows courage and
honor when first facing the Green Knight. The Green Knight came to Arthurs castle to fight
Arthur however Sir Gawain stepped up saying that if he lost their would still be a ruler over the

So is it better to be perfect or to have false? In all honesty Sir Gawain is a more relatable
character than Beowulf because of his one flaw. So it is better to be flawed its what makes you