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Comparing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Essay

Song of Roland comparison compare contrast essays

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Song of Roland

In mythological Europe, knightly heroes abounded whereever one

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could choose to roam. There are hundreds of tales of knights who embodied

the concept of chivalry, slew huge dragons, slew legions of foes in single

combat, and still made it home in time for dinner. Of all these tales,

ballads and poems, a few have risen to the fore front of the genre as an

example for the rest of the stories to follow. I will be comparing the

positive and negative personality traits of two heroes from the famous

poems “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and “The Song of Roland.”

On the lighter side, both Gawain and Roland had more positive

attributes than they did negative.

Both men were honorable, almost to a

fault. For example in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” Gawain agreed to

be on time for his own execution:

“Nor I know you not, knight, your name nor your court.

But tell me truly thereof, and teach me your name, and I

shall fare forth to find you, so far as I may, and this I say

in good certain, and swear upon oath.”

(G&GK, pt.1, ln. 400-403)

Gawain’s agreement might have been honorable, but it doesn’t strike

me as particularly bright.

Roland had the same type of problem. His honor

also got him to into trouble. One perfect example of this was when Roland

made his Uncle Ganelon so angry by antagonizing him that Ganelon used

Roland’s concept of honor to make Roland take the rear guard and be

slaughtered. Roland antagonized Ganelon by saying: “Quoth Roland: ‘

Ganelon my step she is the man” (SOR, ln.229) Roland also felt honor bound

not to call for reinforcements against the pagan horde until almost every

single one of the knights were dead. “Companion Roland, your Olifant now

sound! King Charles will hear and turn his armies round; hell succour us

with all his kingly power.

‘ Roland replies: ‘may never god allow that I

should cast dishonour on my house or fair France!” (SOR, ln.1063-1068) To

go along with that incredible sense of honor, Gawain was the best man in

King Arthur’s court with weapons. Gawain might have been fairly humble

about it, but the poet emphasizes Gawain’s prowess with weapons by self

deprecation. “While so bold men about upon benches sit, that no host under

heaven is hardier of will, Nor better brothers-in-arms where battle is

joined; I am the weakest, well I know” (G;GK, ln. 351-354) Roland was

even more so, fighting exquisitely with sword, lance, and ax to defeat

legions of pagans in “The Song of Roland.” “Leopard nor lion ne’er grew so

fierce as he (Roland)” (SOR, ln.

1115) Both Roland and Gawain are

portrayed as totally above board and honest. Gawain promises to show up

for his execution, and indeed he does. Roland promises to take up the rear

guard with a minimum of men. Both of these men embodied the attributes

of chivalry.

On the other hand, some of those same attributes helped to get

Gawain and Roland into trouble. For example, even though both Gawain and

Roland were honorable, Gawain nearly lost his head due to his honor when he

made his deal with the Green Knight to trade blows in ‘Sir Gawain and the

Green Knight’.

Gawain’s lack of fear also caused him to take on opponents

much more dangerous than he could handle by himself. When the Green Knight

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suddenly popped into existence in the middle of King Arthur’s hall on a

green horse, it shouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to figure out that

a non-magical fighter isn’t going to fare too well against this particular

opponent. Roland had the same problem. Taking on incredibly long odds was

apparently a knightly characteristic that wasn’t on the ‘most desirable

chivalric habits’ list. Neither of the two appeared to be much of a people

person, antagonizing and fighting with people who were better off being

friends. Gawain was involved .

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Song of Roland comparison compare contrast essays Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Song of Roland In mythological Europe, knightly heroes abounded whereever one could choose to roam. There are hundreds of tales of knights who embodied the concept of chivalry, slew huge dragons, slew legions of foes in single combat, and still made it home in time for dinner. Of all these tales, ballads and poems, a few have risen to the fore front of the genre as an example for the re
2020-04-16 22:57:08
Comparing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Essay
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