The Tragic Hero In Beowulf

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When one wants to talk about writing, a variety of tropes or motifs come to mind. When referring to early works or classic literature, one of the tropes that comes out the most is tragedy; the tragic hero trope more specifically. It seems that humans find enjoyment in writing or reading about the magnificent hero, a character that possesses incredible and noble qualities, a figure to admire. However, more often than not, said hero ends up experiencing a falling off, either disgrace or demise, sometimes product of those same great qualities for which he was honored in the first place. Defined as one whose "attributes and faculties are of a higher order than those of mortals" (Pavis 169), it can be argued that a lot of characters defined as “tragic …show more content…
Even before Beowulf gets properly introduced to the reader, the author refers to him by saying “he was the mightiest man on earth” (Beowulf 45), setting the stage to the heroic feats he will perform later on. One does not really know about Beowulf’s real might until the fight with Grendel, in which is clear that the hero is actually capable of doing something. This achievement is followed by many more, such as the fight with Grendel’s mother and the war against Friesland; not only that, but he was also described to be a great king after he ascended to the throne. Beowulf, however, faces a moment of obliquity when he decides to fight the dragon “for the glory of winning” (Beowulf 93), this being the “fatal flaw” that will ultimately cause his death. Regardless of his Hamartia, the events in the poem, such as the fights and his ability to be good king, can serve to support the idea that Beowulf is indeed worthy of being called a …show more content…
The reader learns that Sir Gawain is the least important out of Arthur’s knights by no one other than Gawain himself when he says “I am the weakest of your warriors and feeblest of wit” (Sir Gawain 145) to his king at the banquet when the Green Knight appears. Whether he says this out of good faith or because he is highly self-aware, his humbleness cannot be really considered heroic. Later on, Gawain shows to have accepted his fate and embarks on a journey to find the eccentric knight. He ends up arriving at an unknown castle and being part of another game offered by his host, thus, laying out the setting to present Gawain’s fatal flaw. Accepting the host’s wife’s girdle in an attempt to “save him[self] from the strike in his challenge at the chapel” (Sir Gawain 175) and then lying to the host about his winnings of the day is considered to be Gawain’s flaw. Now, considering the context of the poem and the general setting, being a dishonest knight is supposed to be a great and inexcusable flaw. Thus, with as much as two actions in this poem that can really be considered heroic, which are his offer to take on the game instead of Arthur and his willingness to seek the Green Knight, one can say that Gawain just barely evens his fatal flaw of going against the expected honesty that a knight should have. Throwing in some additional points because his lying was to save himself from death, Gawain

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