Beowulf experiences tough circumstances and because he does the right things, he emerges a hero and can live knowing he did the best he could. Here, responsibility leads to good works and, subsequently, a good life.
In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” we see Christian values displayed when Gawain accepts his responsibility in much the same way that Grendel does. When examining the story of Sir Gawain, we cannot overlook the importance of chivalry, which is strongly associated with Christian ideals. Gawain maintain the knights high ideals even when he under pressure. When Gawain is traveling to the Green Chapel, he speaks with God, working out his own fear and uneasiness. The result of this conversation is a renewed sense of honor and a urgency to continue. Another example of how the poet intended Gawain to carry these ideals with him is in the pentangle, in which he describes the five injuries of Jesus and the five delights of Mary. Interestingly, the pentangle a “sign by Solomon sagely devised” (Gawain 625). We are told that Gawain is admirable because of his good in works, which are “devoid of villainy, with virtues adorned/in sight” (634-5). Gawain becomes a positive role model because he is able to think clearly and behave as a noble knight should behave.
Everyman, “Beowulf,” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” possess Christian ideals that are respected by the protagonists in each tale. Everyman is very literal in its expression and meaning because it allows readers to understand spirituality for all men through the experience of this one character.
Beowulf and Sir Gawain are not so literal in that the authors of these tales expose Christian beliefs without being as outwardly Christian as Everyman. However, the stories all come to the same conclusion in that they promote responsibility and honor as codes of conduct. These men would not be the same nor would their outcomes been as positive had they not been as strong as they were. It is through their difficulties that they learned the importance of the right thing to do. The message for readers is that we can avoid many pitfalls in life if we look to these characters as models. All stories lead to the fact that honorable behavior is rewarded in life. We should put off the fleeting emotions and thrills that might distract us from our intended purpose, which is to live honorably.
Beowulf.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol I.M.H. Abrams, ed. New York W.W. Norton and Company. 1986. pp. 31-78.
Everyman.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol I.M.H. Abrams, ed. New York W.W. Norton and Company. 1986. pp. 347-67.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York W.W. Norton.