Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Some additional thoughts on Gawain as a hero

So I was a part of Group 1 in our debate today, arguing that Gawain is indeed a true hero. I don't want to prolong this argument/debate (haha), but Group 2's closing statement and overall argument brought up some interesting counterpoints in my mind. Is hesitation really a sign of weakness and the destruction of someone's heroism? I don't think so. If this was true, then wouldn't Aragorn's heroism take a blow when he hesitates about what road to take after the fellowship leaves Lorien? When he hesitates in his decision to follow Frodo or the Uruk-Hai? Or to throw the Bible in here...If hesitation is a bad thing, Jesus' reputation might take a blow because He prays to the Father the night before His crucifixion, "Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will." Jesus isn't entirely gung-ho about dying - He asks God not to make him do it. I'd say that's a little bit of hesitation, but it in no way makes Jesus' final act any less heroic. I think hesitation is a natural human trait that doesn't make anyone any less of a hero, and Gawain's first flinch simply allows us a view of his humanity before he steals himself for death.

Group 2's argument about Gawain acting super noble in public situations and then being less moral in private was an interesting one, however. Feel free to expand here because I'd love to hear more thoughts on that subject!

1 comment:

Radagast said...

I was in Group 2 today, and really would've rather been in Group 1. I totally agree with you that hesitation doesn't take away from a person's heroism; it was just one of the only things we could sort of argue :) But I agree, it is just a mark of his humanity that he flinches. Anyone would. I think this ties back to how Tolkien talks about making a realistic fantasy story. He has the fantasy elements, but he makes the humans believable. If Gawain had never doubted, never flinched, never made a mistake, I think this would have weakened the story because no one could relate to that type of person. So, I totally agree with you!