Sir Gawain

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One Tragic Defeat
The poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, illustrates the perfection of a knight throughout his life. Sir Gawain the perfect knight goes on a Christmas game quest provided by the Green Knight which tempts his purity and eventually ruins the ideal knight he used to be. In the criticism, “A Psychological Interpretation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, the critic Stephen Manning argues that the poem centers on Gawain’s feeling of guilt. On the other hand, P. J. C. Field a critic who wrote, “ A Rereading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, argues that Gawain’s sin in accepting the lady’s girdle is minimal. The remainder of the criticism portrays the comparison between the two critics mentioned.

The feeling of guilt occurred once during Sir Gawain’s life; this one time happened to be the day a faultless knight receives his first sin. Sir Gawain holds the situation seriously, and it affects the rest of his life. For example, the green belt Gawain wears, “symbolizes both [his] shame and his self-knowledge” (Manning 158). Manning explains the color green as a symbol of rebirth, therefore the green belt Sir Gawain carries around resembles the revival of on his short comings. Gawain discovers he is not perfect and learns from his mistakes, thus he becomes a finer, more superior knight which he wishes to become. For instance, Gawain illustrates himself as evil thus informs his peers, “for evil to exist, it must exist in the good” (159). Manning describes Gawain as a perfect person, one without sin, as if he were a god. Gawain’s peers strive to become like him, so his sin exhibits the impurity and imperfection of human kind. Gawain reveals to his peers that everyone makes mistakes, and should not dread or guilt over them. Guilt demonstrates the psychological feelings of Sir Gawain in the poem.

Accepting the girdle for the Lord’s lady is temptation, therefore a mortal sin, but for the predestination of oneself, keeping the girdle was...
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