Compare and contrast the characterizations of the Wanderer and Sir Gawain (the characters themselves, not the poems of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and "The Wanderer").  

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One might not think of the Wanderer and Sir Gawain as having much in common, but they do.

Firstly, both have great reverence for their king (or as the Wanderer might call it, his liege lord). They take their warrior status with seriousness and seek to represent their lords well....

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One might not think of the Wanderer and Sir Gawain as having much in common, but they do.

Firstly, both have great reverence for their king (or as the Wanderer might call it, his liege lord). They take their warrior status with seriousness and seek to represent their lords well. For the Wanderer, this was in battle. For Gawain, this is by taking up the Green Knight's deadly challenge.

Secondly, both have great love for their communities. The Wanderer lost his people and mourns that loss, thinking back on the communal joy in the mead hall. Gawain still has a king and people to return to, though he believes he will die at the Green Knight's axe, so he believes he is leaving them forever.

However, there are differences between the two. As mentioned previously, the Wanderer will be forever alone, a man without a people to come back to, while Gawain will get to return to Camelot. Also, the Wanderer does not experience the same shame as Gawain, who fails in his test of courage and honesty by trying to preserve his life with the allegedly enchanted girdle.

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One thing the Wanderer and Sir Gawain share is a veneration for their liege-lord. Sir Gawain jumps at the chance to accept the Green Knight's challenge on Arthur's behalf; Gawain's love of Arthur (and the entire opening scene in "Sir Gawain," for that matter) is a fair approximation of the Wanderer's dreams "of the hall-men / the dealing of treasure, the days of his youth / When his lord bade welcome to wassail and feast." Gawain's eagerness to confront the Green Knight, however, is contrasted with the Wanderer's world weariness. It is not hard to imagine Gawain as a younger version of the Wanderer, someone who has yet to learn that "a wise man is patient / No swift to anger, nor hasty of speech, . . . Nor too eager in vow— ere he know the event."

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Both the Wanderer (from the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Wanderer") and Sir Gawain (from the Arthurian text Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) are in search for something. Also, both men have been exiled (the Wanderer has self-exiled himself, and the promise Sir Gawain made forces him to exile himself as well). The Wanderer (who has lost his family, king, and kinsmen) is in search for "one in the meadhall who knew my people." The Wanderer is also in search for the one thing which will bring him solitude: his faith. 

Like the Wanderer, Sir Gawain is in search of something. Having made a promise to the Green Knight, Sir Gawain must seek out the green chapel and receive a blow from the Green Knight. Similar to the Wanderer, Sir Gawain's faith proves to be very important (illustrated through his carrying of the shield which possesses an image of Mary). 

Contrastingly, Sir Gawain does have family, kinsmen, and a king to return to. His loyalty to Arthur proves important (since he must not let down his king or bring dishonor upon him in any way). The Wanderer does not have to worry about this--his lord has been "laid in the darkness of the earth." 

The characterizations of both the Wanderer and Sir Gawain prove that each man has love for their lord (both their king and God above). Each has a quest (although they differ greatly). Outside of these similarities, Gawain's quest will end with an embrace by his family, kinsmen, and king. The Wanderer, on the other hand, has no one. His quest will end when he meets his god. 

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