Who is more heroic, Sir Gawain or the Green Knight?

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I would argue that Sir Gawain is the more heroic of the two. One of the key themes of this tale is to take pride in our humanity, including our imperfections. This theme is why even though Sir Gawain fails to a certain extent by accepting the girdle, he earns...

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I would argue that Sir Gawain is the more heroic of the two. One of the key themes of this tale is to take pride in our humanity, including our imperfections. This theme is why even though Sir Gawain fails to a certain extent by accepting the girdle, he earns the right to wear this partial failure with pride. He is only a man, filled with imperfections, and yet he still chooses to live up to his values.

This point is crucial to a comparison between the two characters. Gawain continues the challenge with the full knowledge that he could be killed. He knows that he is mortal and he suffers from all the same fears and insecurities that all of us must endure. And yet he continues with the challenge out of a sense of honor.

The Green Knight, while obviously an honorable character, takes no such risk. He fully knows that Gawain's attacks will not harm him. He is also a moral character in that he helps the hero learn a valuable lesson, but he never has to undergo the heroic ordeal of risking his own life for his values. Heroism is about overcoming basic human shortcomings for the sake of a greater ideal. This is not possible for a supernatural character such as the Green Knight.

Because Gawain is able to continually make the right choices despite his mortality and imperfection, I would say he is the more heroic character.

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