Heroism in Beowulf and the Wife of Bath’s Tale

Heroism in Beowulf and the Wife of Bath’s Tale

The stories “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “Beowulf” both display examples of heroism. In the time of Beowulf, heroism was thought to have been strictly based on pure strength and the ability to defeat opponents. As time progresses, the definition of a hero has become more open. In the time of “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, wisdom and the ability to make important decisions are becoming qualities for defining a hero.

Heroes are very important within a society, they give people hope and someone to look up to in a time of need, with the measures of defining a hero changing, this allows for a wider variety of people, including women, to become heroes. Beowulf “who of all the men on earth was the strongest” was regarded as a hero because of his recognizable strength and the ability to defeat his opponents, in this case, the monster Grendel. If Beowulf had attempted to defeat Grendel in another manner, without using his strength, he may not have been recognized as a hero in the same fashion.

In The Wife of Bath’s Tale, the knight, who does wrong, is punished. Along his travels to fulfil what he must do to be forgiven, he meets a crone who claims that she can help him. She says she to help him in return for something, he agrees. After, the crone claims that what women desire the most is “to have mastery over their man”. The crone does something heroic when she stands up for the rights of women and their dominance in a male-dominated society. Though by different terms, both are important acts of heroism that help a society.

Beowulf was a strong, brave, great warrior, who was praised by many people and “neither south nor north, was there a warrior worthier to rule over men (but no one meant Beowulf’s praise to belittle Hrothgar, their kind and gracious king” The people admired their king greatly, and to compare Beowulf to him was a great honour and it shows they thought of Beowulf as an important hero in their society. The knight in The Wife of Bath’s Tale eventually marries that crone, has he agreed to do when she saved him.

She presents the knight with a choice, he responds to her, by saying “My lady, my love, and wife so dear, I put myself in your wise governing. Do which may be the more pleasing and bring most honour to you. ” Heroically, the crone managed to make the knight into a better person by using her wisdom and standing for what she believed in, and helping their society. Both heroes are able to do heroic acts to aid their society and the people but have different traits that make them heroic. The Danish town had been terrorized by Grendel for a long time.

Beowulf was extremely confident that he was able to defeat the monster and eventually, “the Danes had been served as he’d boasted he’d serve them. ” He was able to do as he said he would and defeat the monster, after, he was regarded as a hero by the Danes. In The Wife of Bath’s Tale, the crone, was able to help the knight and improve his personality, this made a impact on a larger scale, by allowing women to have more recognition as heroes in a time when strength and bravery were considered the only traits of heroism.

Heroism is an important aspect in all societies. The acceptance of more traits to defining a hero is important because it allows for many more people to be heroes. The advancement in literature demonstrates the changing times and that the strong and brave, like Beowulf, are no longer the only ones that can be heroes. The righteous and wise, like the crone, are becoming heroes as well.