Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Pearl-Poet

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Compare Beowulf and Sir Gawain... as epic poems. I need to show that contrary to critical conceptions, Gawain possesses traits of an epic poem.   Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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To understand the similarities between Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it is important to understand what epic poetry is.

An epic poem is a long narrative poem; it usually focus on a story that reflect heroic events and deeds...Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form.

Oral poetry is a tradition of passing stories and histories by word-of-mouth, before stories were written down. This was the job of one member of a community, man or woman. The job was passed down from parent to child, and this person, often called a scop or bard, recorded important events, such as battles, and stories, etc. Beowulf was passed down in the oral tradition long before it was written down.

The first epics are known as primary, or original, epics. One such epic is the Old English story Beowulf.


Epic: a long narrative poem in elevated stature presenting characters of high position in adventures forming an organic whole through their relation to a central heroic figure and through their development of episodes important to the history of a nation or race.

With these descriptions in mind, look at specific pieces of literature. I believe there is information to support that both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Greek Knight are epic poems.

Both Beowulf and Gawain are "central heroic figures." The stories also have several parts or episodes.

In Beowulf , there is the battle with Grendel, Grendel's dam (mother) and the dragon at the end. The story of Gawain has episodes as well. First Gawain faces the Green Knight during the Christmas celebration at King Arthur's court. Next Gawain travels to the chapel to meet the Green...

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