I have to compare and contrast Beowulf's style of speech with Sir Gawain's style of speech.I have a few points brought out about the way they talk and their attitudes, but I honestly don't think...

I have to compare and contrast Beowulf's style of speech with Sir Gawain's style of speech.

I have a few points brought out about the way they talk and their attitudes, but I honestly don't think the few I have will be enough. Thank you

Asked on by hilarypaige

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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For one thing, Beowulf is more verbose than Gawain; Gawain says far less at any one time. For instance, in an early speech Beowulf goes on for 46 poetic lines )"Hygelac's, we, / fellows at board; I am Beowulf named") whereas Gawain talks in prose for the equivalent of 33 poetic lines ("I beseech ye, my lord, let this venture be mine"). Beowulf is self-vaunting, bragging ("Truth I claim it, / that I had more of might in the sea / than any man else"), whereas Gawain is modest and humble (" I am the weakest, I wot, and the feeblest of wit"). When Beowulf speaks to the woman Wealhtheow, he speaks of two things: (1) he would fight till victory or death were won ("or fighting fall in death,") and (2) he would do the will of Wealhtheow's people ("I would work the will of your people / fully"). When Gawain speaks to Lady Bertilak, he reiterates that he is unworthy of his task ("unworthy am I")--which is decidedly unlike Beowulf--and tells her that he will do her will ("I wot I will do even as it may please ye").

In this brief overview, it is clear that Beowulf and Gawain differ in their styles of speech in point of personal assessment and self-description. While Beowulf speaks in glowing terms of his prowess and his accomplishments and his expectations of accomplishment, Gawain speaks in humble phrases about his prowess and abilities and discounts the value of his service to his king and his host. It is also clear that both Beowulf and Gawain have a code of doing the will of the person they deem to be in a higher position than themselves, kings and women both. This presupposes that they have no suspicion or fear that such a person will attempt to use them for dishonorable ends or will seek in any way to mistreat them: It presupposes a mutually understood and acted upon code of honor and trustworthiness.

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