The True Virtues of a Hero

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The Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Periods shape the view of a gallant from day one till now. From the tales of Beowulf, Le Morte d’ Arthur, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an epic hero’s persona becomes the ideal image of an admirable character. Regardless of all the faults encountered, with certain characteristics such as honor, courage, loyalty, and honesty, an epic hero can mean so much to an individual. Just as the old ages, not every individual can have the full combination of a hero. As years past and time changes, these virtues still remain the same.

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Till this day, anyone with courage, loyalty, and honesty, deserves to be honored. Those individuals are the ones that young children look up to the most; those are the true heroes of our lives. Beowulf went through various battles throughout his entire life. Even before crowning him King, he led the Geats to many defeats. When Hrothgar tells Beowulf about Grendel attacking his men in Herot, Beowulf gladly takes the honor to defeat Grendel and makes sure he does not come near Herot and Hrothgar’s men again. For a fact, Grendel was a big creature, the Danes were afraid of him and so was everyone else.

They didn’t know how to defeat such a creature. As for Beowulf, without knowing where he’s putting his life, he decides to battle Grendel. With courage and bravery, Beowulf breaks Grendel’s arm off and sends him running back home to his mother. Not only does Beowulf challenge Grendel, he also challenges Grendel’s mother when she comes back for revenge for what he did to her son. With another brave defeat, Beowulf slowly builds up his heroic ego. His finally and last battle with the dragon brings forth his true virtues within his heart.

He takes on the dragon knowing there is a high possibility he wouldn’t be able to make it through this challenge. Battling a creature much stronger than him, Beowulf puts forth the courage to protect his people and decides to battle the dragon all by himself. He stands alone while all his men sit on their horses, scared to their knees. Although his last battle with the dragon wasn’t a defeat as his other battles, he proved loyalty and honor to the Geats. He did all he could to protect them and defend his people without asking for anything in return.

After his death, he was honored with all his glory, “Beowulf’s followers rode, mourning their beloved leader, crying that no better king had ever lived, no prince so mild, no man so open to his people, so deserving of praise” (893-897). For all the things he did for his people, he remained as an epic hero throughout their lives and within their hearts. King Arthur portrayed his role as king with all his effort. He led his army to a battle with Mordred without fearing what would happen to him. It takes a lot of honor to be king and be able to manage to keep Britain under safe terms.

Britain trusts King Arthur as their king; he has that position in the palm of his hands. When King Arthur went to battle Launcelot for killing Gareth, he allowed his people to see the loyal side of him. He wasn’t willing to just let Launcelot get away with the murder of Gareth. When King Arthur realizes what Mordred is trying to do and the danger Britain is in, he decides to take charge and does what he has to do in order to make sure Mordred is defeated before he fails his people. With courage, King Arthur sets off with fourteen knights and battles Mordred. He finally kills Mordred even with all the pain in him.

He was willing to put his life on the line for his people even if that meant killing his own son. Sir Bedivere and the Archbishop of Canterbury honor King Arthur in his tomb for his greatness, “buried peacefully in his tomb at Glastonbury, where the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir Bedivere humbled themselves, and with prayers and fasting honored his memory. And inscribed on his tomb, men say, is this legend: Here lies Arthur, the once and future king” (403-406). Arthur set the true example of a hero for his people with his strengths and his courageous heart.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a rather different tale. Sir Gawain was able to chop the Green Knight’s head off with an agreement; Sir Gawain would get his own head chopped off in twelve months and a day. The Green Knight knew under all these conditions, Sir Gawain was going to have to meet their agreement. Once twelve months and a day came up, Sir Gawain rode off to the green castle to see the Green Knight and to do his time doing of getting his head chopped off. Instead, he encounters a king and decides to get into another agreement with him.

This time, instead of following through like the Green Knight’s agreement, Sir Gawain becomes dishonest with the king. For his punishment, the king decides to teach him a lesson. The king strikes three times, for every time Sir Gawain was supposed to trade for what he had. Sir Gawain knowing what he did was wrong; he admits his wrong doing to the king, who turns out to be the Green Knight. The Green Knight doesn’t chop off Sir Gawain’s head and tells him that he paid for his fault by admitting his dishonesty and offering his head to the ax.

From what the Green Knight puts Sir Gawain through, Sir Gawain learns that honesty is always the key. For a true knight to be a hero, he must be honest and learn to stay loyal to all his people. Sir Gawain was able to grasp the concept of honesty and learn from a true leader. Tales over and over have been told based on a hero. For every tale that was told, every hero in that tale must meet certain characteristics. With these heroes, we are able to search for them in our lives. Just as if an older brother or sister was a hero to a young child, the young child would look up to him or her for their courage, honesty, and loyalty.

Older individuals tend to set an example for others to be like who they are in their hearts, true heroes on the inside and the outside. For the most of us, a hero would be someone who inspires us and motivates us. In the old ages, a hero was someone who would protect them and show them the true meaning of honesty and loyalty, but with all of that, it’s just like someone who inspires them and makes a difference in their lives. Beowulf, King Arthur, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight all represent the heroes in our lives, physically and mentally.

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