Sir Gawain’s Portrayal of An Ideal Medieval Knight
In Medieval times, much was expected of knights that served the courts. Most importantly, each knight pledged to a strict code of chivalry. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, presumably written by the Pearl Poet, is a character study of what an ideal medieval knight was like. Sir Gawain directly exhibits traits of knighthood by practicing loyalty, strength and ability, and honesty with humility, throughout the story.
First, Sir Gawain’s loyalty to his king is a characteristic of a model medieval knight. At the beginning of the story, The Green Knight charges into King Arthur’s court and demands a Christmas game. The Green Knight challenges King Arthur to a contest to be carried out a year and a day later at the Green Chapel. Out of loyalty to his liege, Sir Gawain volunteers to take King Arthur’s place in the contest, “…and since this affair is so foolish that is nowise befits you (King Arthur), and I have requested it first, accord it then to me”. (Line 358-359) Secondly, Sir Gawain exhibits distinct characteristics of knighthood by having definite strength and keen ability. One example of his strength is exhibited when Sir Gawain cuts off the Green Knight’s head in one blow; “so that the sharp of his blade shivered the bones, and sank clean through the clear fat and clove it asunder” (Line 426-427). Sir Gawain’s skill at arms and horsemanship is revealed as he travels through the forest. While searching for the Green Chapel, Sir Gawain’s skills as a knight are tested when he is attacked by wild people and animals and is able to expertly fight them off and continue his quest.
Last, Sir Gawain’s honesty also proves him to be an excellent example of a medieval knight. One example of his honesty is portrayed when Sir Gawain departs King Arthur’s court to keep his promise to the Green Knight. He relentlessly searches for the Green Chapel to complete the initial Christmas game. Sir Gawain also...
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