Essay about Pride in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

981 Words Oct 26th, 2010 4 Pages
Literature in rich in stories where the pride of the otherwise flawless hero inevitably becomes their Achilles heel. While pride in medieval culture sometimes had negative connotations, it was an aspect that was necessary for power and survival. In looking at two influential works from Old English and Middle English, Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, respectively, we begin to understand the importance and the context of pride in those times.
Although distanced by hundreds of years, the Old English epic poem Beowulf and the Middle English verse of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are similar within the context of pride. And as much as they are similar in this respect, they are also some very important differences in the way
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As evidenced by his final boast before seeking out the dragon, Bewoulf said; “ I risked my life often when I was young. Now I am old but as king of the people I shall pursue this fight for the glory of winning…” Despite his old age and many feats and accomplishments, he knows that he needs to die to salvage his pride and to preserve his legacy.
By the time Gawain finds the Green Knight, he has passed through the true challenge in the story; the test of his honesty and integrity. In hiding the girdle that would prevent him from getting hurt from the host of the castle, Gawain is reaffirming that he is not only full pf pride, but also selfish for his own life, which is not very chivalrous. While it is true that it was a chivalrous action to accept the challenge from the Green Knight in the King Arthur’s place initially, one begins to see how this might just have been a series of courtly formalities and facades. Now that Gawain fears his fate, he

lies about the gridle although he doesn’t really think it is lying. After the confrontation with the Green Knight towards the end of the story, Gawain wears the girdle as a reminder of his own pride. “Each brother of that band, a badric should have, a belt borne oblique of bright green, to be worn with one accord for that worthy’s sake.”

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