Ideal Hero Definition Essay

What is the basis for an ideal hero? According to oxford dictionaries, a hero is “a man who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. “( cite. ) In this essay, we will discuss the requirements for an idealistic hero. We will also analyze the actions of Beowulf and Sir Gawain in the epic poems Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This process of analyzing their actions will give us clarification on whether or not these supposed heroes fit the mold of what it means to be a true and ideal hero.

Before we can truly decide whether Sir Gawain and Beowulf are heroes, we must first analyze the specific and ideal requirements to be a true hero. The previously mentioned definition gives three requirements to be a true and ideal hero; they are as follows: A true hero must be courageous, have outstanding achievements, and have noble qualities. If an individual perfectly embodies these standards, they are an ideal hero. We will start by discussing what the basis of being courageous is. To be courageous is to be brave, fearless, and heroic.

A person who is courageous is, by definition, someone who is “not deterred by danger or pain; brave. ” (Oxford Dictionaries CITE) Secondly, to be considered a hero means having outstanding achievements. To complete an achievement successfully, by definition, is through effort, courage, or skill. If one does not have courage, as required to be a hero, they may use pure effort or their skill. However, it is not ideal for an individual to achieve something heroic purely by their skill and or effort. They should be brave, and unscathed by the idea that the task they are trying to achieve may be dangerous.

Likewise, they should not be content with the idea of their task completed easily, simply due to their skill or by putting forth effort. By doing so, one would be unheroic in this case. Furthermore, simply achieving something does not complete the means for being an ideal hero; a hero’s achievement must be outstanding, meaning exceptionally good, excellent, marvelous, magnificent, superb, etc. A courageously and excellently performed task is the perfect basis of a true and ideal hero. The third and last requirement to be an ideal hero is for an individual to have noble qualities.

If one shows qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor, they are noble. In addition, someone who is noble in character means that individual has or shows high or elevated character. (cite. ) Furthermore, according to the free dictionary, a related word for being noble is honorable. Due to this information, one could argue a knight’s code of honor could represent a hero’s ideal noble qualities. In regards to a knight’s code of honor, there are five specific traits required to uphold ones honor.

The traits are as follows: Generosity, friendship, purity, courtesy, and compassion. In short, if an individual perfectly embodies these standards, they are an ideal hero. Furthermore, individuals who fit this mold are idealistic; they are the perfect hero and have no faults whatsoever. Now that we have set the specific standards of what it means to be an ideal hero, we can now discuss if Gawain and Beowulf fit the mold we have set. We will analyze the epic poems to see if Gawain and or Beowulf are heroes starting with the requirement of being courageous.

When it comes to our two heroes and courage, they could not be more different. Beowulf and courage, they go hand in hand. Beowulf is very courageous when it comes to his actions and the fights he faces. Beowulf is courageous to come fight Grendel when no one else could. He is also brave in the fact that he kills Grendel’s vengeful mother after he kills Grendel. He does not let the idea that a situation may be dangerous hold him back he is fearless. For example, Beowulf even though he feels like the attle with the dragon may be the death of him he does not let that idea deter him from fighting and he does not draw back or cower. Instead, he fights bravely and well and in the end, dies a courageous death by killing the dragon. Beowulf is so courageous because he has come to terms with the inevitable, death. He decided he is going to die at some point and because of this he might as well live his life as brave and courageous as he possibly could. (CITE). However, when it comes to Sir Gawain’s actions, the word courageous does not come to mind; Sir Gawain is cowardly and weak.

Gawain is cowardly in various ways. Firstly, Gawain is scared of death. Because of this fear, he prays to the Virgin Mary, and at the end of the story keeps the magic green girdle in an attempt to avoid losing his life. Gawain is weak in the fact that in fytte the second, he cries thinking about how inevitable it is that he is going to die. Gawain’s only act of courage is that he offers to take on the green knight in place of Arthur. Although we have this one act of courage, we see no other actions made to prove Gawain is courageous.

Therefore, overall Gawain is not courageous. (CITE PG 15 LINE 8 BOOK 2. ) In terms of looking simply at courage, Beowulf is indeed an ideal hero thus far, whereas Gawain is failing miserably. The second requirement to be an ideal hero is for an individual to have outstanding achievements. Beowulf has many outstanding achievements. He has slain sea monsters, killed Grendel, killed Grendel’s mother, and killed a dragon to name a few. Not only has Beowulf completed various quests and tasks excellently, he has also made a name for himself due to his outstanding achievements.

Compared to Beowulf, Gawain is the lesser of the two yet again. Gawain does not go out bravely completing quests and tasks like Beowulf. He also never kills anything and does not save anyone in need besides, Arthur the trouble of participating in the Green Knight’s game. Furthermore, Gawain also talks down about himself when requesting the task of participating in the Green Knights game instead of Arthur. Gawain says, “I am the weakest, I know, and feeblest of wit; and to tell the truth there would be the least loss in my life. (CITE 16)

Due to this, we can assume that Gawain is a lesser compared to the other knights at the round table, giving us more proof that he has no outstanding achievements. In short, Beowulf has many outstanding achievements, whereas Gawain comes up short. Therefore, thus far Beowulf fits the mold of an ideal hero. When it comes to Gawain however, his actions have shown us thus far that he does not fit the mold of the ideal hero. Our last examination will be on whether or not our two heroes have noble characteristics or not.