Реферат: A Comparison between Beowulf & Redcrosse Knight

A Comparison between Beowulf &Redcrosse Knight

Both Beowulf and Redcrosse Knight exemplify the perfect hero in twoseparate periods, The Middle Age & The Early Modern Period. The story ofBeowulf shows the effect of the spread of Christianity in the early Danishpaganistic society that values heroic deeds and bravery above all else.Beowulf’s heroism is explored in three separate conflicts, those with Grendel,Grendel’s mother, and the sea monster. Redcrosse Knight, the protagonist of“The Faerie Queen,” stands for the virtue of Holiness—though he is theindividual Christian fighting against evil. What is a hero? According to TheAmerican Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, a hero is a person notedfor feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked orsacrificed his or her life.

“The Faerie Queen,” written during the early modern period, narratesa massive change in Christian religious thoughts and practices. RedcrosseKnight offers his services to Gloriana, Queen of Fairyland. Una (representingtruth) reveals that the dragon of hell has captured her parents and that sheneeds assistance in getting them free. Redcrosse takes on the challenge ofgetting her parents released (Canto 1). This demonstrate a hero, he will gothrough great trials and fight fierce monsters and this in itself is thecharacter of a heroic knight. Not only does his armor protect his body andthose with him, but also being a Christian (Protestantism) he has theprotection of Christ. For the Christian to be holy, he must have true faith.

Much of Beowulf is dedicated to verbalizing and demonstrating theheroic code, which values strength, courage, and loyalty in soldiers,hospitality, generosity, political skill, and good reputation in all people.The heroic code is crucial to warrior societies as a way of understanding theirrelationships to the world and the danger waiting outside their borders.Redcrosse Knight, conversely, accustom to the chivalric code, must defeatvillains who impersonate the falsehood of the Roman Church. Redcrosse mustdefend the natural realm of villains plus the spiritual realm of evilness. Therich qualities of loyalty, humility, sacrifice for the good of others, andsympathy for those less fortunate are seen woven into the text as well as thenegative consequences from greed and pride. He encounters several evildoers,the dragon from hell, Archimago (evil sorcerer), Sansfoy (without faith),Sansloy (without the law of god), Duessa/Fidessa (falsehood and the RomanChurch) to name a few. These evildoers fight Redcrosse Knight through deceit,lust, and untruth. Therefore he must be armed with faith in Christ to overcomethe evils of the spiritual realm.

As we can see, equally Beowulf and Redcrosse Knight have a vastamount of bravery. They both defeat enemies that attack or capture innocentpeople. They both constantly pray to Christ for assistance in fighting off evilthey encounter as well as having sympathy for those in distress. Thesequalities idealized by thanes and knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor,and gallantry toward women are visible in both Beowulf and Redcrosse Knight.

One variation is that women are not as prominent in the Old Englishperiod and women are in the Middle Age period. We see this in both poems. InBeowulf we only hear about Wealhtheow, Hrothgar’s queen, and Grendel mother.However in “The Faerie Queene,” we see many women characters, Gloriana, Una,Duessa/Fidessa, Lucifera (Hell), Caelia (Heavenly), Fidelia (Faith), Sperenza(Hope), and Charissa (Charity). In some way or another Redcrosse has aconnection to these women, good and bad.

Additionally both heroes have an encounter with a character fromhell. Beowulf dives into the lake (personification of hell) where Grendel’smother is waiting to attack. He cannot cut her with his sword, so he tosses itaway and finds a larger sword killing Grendel’s mother by cutting her head off.He sees Grendel dead body nearby and cuts off his head as a trophy and returnto Denmark (pg. 61, 1356-84). This expresses an important virtue, loyalty.Redcrosse Knight encounters Lucifera (Queen of Hell) and the parade of vices.He has been weakened by his visit to the House of Pride. Although he had theinstinctive good sense to flee from that castle, his conscience is still atwork. This failure leads him near death in the dungeon of Orgoglio, a giantthat represents godless pride. Arthur (represents magnificence) comes along andhelps Redcrosse rise up from his lowest state (Canto 7). Redcrosse also defeatsthe dragon. Just as Christ descended to hell to defeat Satan, Redcrosse had toenter the hellish mouth of the dragon to finally kill it. He is not victoriousalone he is saved twice by very timely help. The Well of Life and The Tree ofLife, both represents the grace that God gives to mankind, which aids Christianin danger of falling prey to sin (Canto 10). No matter how well equipped orprepared a Christian is, he is no match for sin and death without theunderserved grace of God. Thus the message about the Christian life is one ofhumility; we can never take the credit for God’s victory.

Another similarity of both these warriors are rewards for beingheroes, however in very different ways. After Beowulf kills Grendel he isconsider the greatest hero in Danish history. Hrothgar says that Beowulf willnever lack for riches, the horses and men of the Geats were all richly adorned,and a party was held to celebrate Beowulf’s victory (pg. 48-52, 710-915).Redcrosse Knight, on the other hand, will receive his reward in heaven. If hecontinues to live sinless and fight against evildoers he will receive eternallife. The battle will not end until the end of the world, when Christ willreveal which religion is false and which is true. While the code maintains thathonor is gained during life through deeds, Christianity asserts that glory liesin the afterlife. Christian doctrine also advocates a peaceful, forgivingattitude toward one’s enemies (Canto 12).

Just as they both have similarities Redcrosse Knight has flaws aswell. Redcrosse runs into Despair, a gloomy old man that knows Redcrosse’s sinand weaknesses and almost persuades him to take his own life. Despair is notone of the seven deadly sins however a Christian should not be caught indespair, as it is a sin to take your own life. Again as a noble and courageousknight, Redcrosse obtain assistance from Caelia and her daughters in the Houseof Holiness to regain his strength.

In both poems, Beowulf and Redcrosse Knight developed from heroicwarriors into wise leaders. Beowulf rises from an unfretted warrior to areliable king and Redcrosse Knight eventually becomes St. George, the patronsaint of England. Both possessed the necessary characteristics to become verysuccessful nobles. Though these two outlooks are somewhat oppositional, eachcharacter acts as society dictates. Beowulf acted as a hero-warrior andRedcrosse as a chivalric-warrior. Though their Christian values are somewhatsimilar. The images of warrior code presented in both poems are significantroles that are important to Christian life—Faith and Holiness. As stated in theBible “Faith without works is dead.”

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