Arthurian Hero Definition Essay

The Great Sir Gawain (csis.pace.edu)

One of the definitions of the word “Epic” includes heroic, majestic, and impressively great Some definitions for the word “Hero” include brave, noble, and admirable. Sir Gawain is all of the words listed before and more, that's why I chose Sir Gawain to write my hero essay about. In the poem of Sir Gawain and the green knight we find our hero faced with a quest of amazing proportions. To me, Sir Gawain is more than a character; he shows that you can make mistakes and still be able to show your heroism. That is why I enjoy Sir Gawain's heroism, because of its uniqueness.

One of Sir Gawain's traits I find most admirable is his Chivalry. He has his heart set on only one, he has his heart set on the holy mother Mary. In the poem we learn that he has a picture of her on the inside of his shield. Being such a gentlemen is a good trait; even when the lady of the castle tried to have her way with him, he stayed chivalrous and didn't Shun her away but didn't let her win. To me respect is very important, no matter what the situation.

Another trait of Sir Gawain's I enjoy is his honor. He stepped up to the Green Knight when the knight challenged his uncle, King Arthur, in his own castle. After being tricked by the knight and knowing he was to be slain he still went out looking for the Green Chapel. If that's not honorable, then I wouldn't be able to tell you what is. The way he didn't disrespect the lady of the castle [which turns out to be the Green Chapel] where he was resting before he fought the Green Knight, was a truly honorable act.

There was one thing about Sir Gawain that I found more compelling than the other epic heroes. At the end of the great Sir Gawain's poem, he gives up his faith in the Lord by wearing a green sash [belt] which the lady of the castle says will protect him. Even though Sir Gawain made this mistake, it does not mean he is not a hero anymore; it just shows how human he is. Sir Gawain will always be a hero to me. Humans make mistakes; I know I made my share and I'm positive others have made their share too.

I can't think of anyone else better then Sir Gawain to think of as a role model. The way Sir Gawain handles himself in any situation is an amazing thing to read. I hope that Sir Gawain's poem will always be taught in classes everywhere because it's one story that gets to the heart in one way or another.

Page created on 12/27/2009 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/6/2017 6:46:18 PM

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The story of King Arthur is truly the stuff of legends. Raised from birth by the sorcerer Merlin, he grew up to be the king that established the round table for his knights. This story has been retold numerous times and can be seen in cartoons, movies, books, and assorted literature. 

Playlist of Arthurian Heroes

There are many heroes to be found in the story of King Arthur:

  • King Arthur - The main hero of Arthurian legend is King Arthur himself. His father was Uther Pendragon and his mother was Igraine. He and his knights bravely fought beasts, rescued damsels in distress, and searched for the Holy Grail. They were known for their chivalry, high moral character, and loyalty.  
  • Merlin - With his magical skills and wisdom, Merlin was also a hero. He is credited for designing the round table and Camelot, as well as the ring at Stonehenge.
  • Sir Gawain - One of King Arthur’s most admired and loyal knights was Sir Gawain. He strove to do the right thing and would follow the law implicitly. He was the epitome of honor, decency, and courtesy.  
  • Sir Lancelot - Sir Lancelot was the most trusted of the knights and was loved by Arthur. However, he gave into the charms of Guinevere and their affair not only broke Arthur’s heart but brought about the end of Camelot. 
  • Guinevere - Guinevere was considered the most beautiful woman in all the land. She and Arthur were happy for many years until the appearance of Lancelot. Some legends say she was a goddess and, after Camelot was no more, she returned to the realm of goddesses.
  • Morgan Le Fey - Morgan Le Fey was Arthur’s half sister whose mother was Igraine and father was Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall. She had an affair with Arthur’s nephew and Guinevere did not approve and told Arthur. Later on, Morgan told Arthur of the affair between Guinevere and Lancelot, so she had her revenge. Some versions of this legend show her to be kind, while others show her to be evil and dabbling in witchcraft. Some versions show her conspiring with her son to bring about the downfall of Arthur.

Story of King Arthur

To understand why these characters are all Arthurian heroes, it is important to understand the story of King Arthur: 

  • When Arthur was born, there was much trouble in the kingdom, so Merlin raised him in a secret place so no one would know his true identity.  
  • When Arthur’s father died, Merlin put a sword in a stone and told everyone that whoever pulled the sword out would be king. Arthur was merely searching for a sword to use when he pulled it out of the stone. 
  • King Arthur and his knights went on to stop the Saxon invasion. At Camelot, he built a mighty castle and built a round table where he and his knights would sit and no one was more important than the other. With the help of Merlin, he found Excalibur, a magical sword.

The story had bad elements as well:

  • His beautiful queen, Guinevere, had an affair with Lancelot.  
  • Arthur’s half-sister was evil and her son, Mordred, were traitors to Arthur. 
  • Arthur and Mordred fought and both were mortally wounded.  
  • Arthur was sent to the Isle of Avalon where he was cared for by three maidens; but, he was never heard from again.

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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Examples of Arthurian Heroes

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The story of King Arthur is truly the stuff of legends. Raised from birth by the sorcerer Merlin, he grew up to be the king that established the round table for his knights. This story has been retold numerous times and can be seen in cartoons, movies, books, and assorted literature. 

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