Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Is Gawain and Epitome?

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 158
  • Published: November 24, 2012
Read full document
Text Preview
Every group has its idols, those people who serve as the epitome of the group’s values. Cowboys look up to Lane Frost, basketball players look up to Michael Jordan, and Arthurian knights look up to King Arthur. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the greatest Arthurian romances written in England, Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew, takes on a challenge to exchange “one strike for another” with the Green Knight (line 287). Despite all of the bad experiences and temptations he fights along the way, after the battle with the Green Knight, Sir Gawain is definitely still admirable as the epitome of the Arthurian Knight as he wears a green girdle in remembrance of his mistakes(Sir Gawain).

Gawain believes in a chivalric code, in which is very admirable. Gawain is a young knight who knows the chivalric code well, and knows that he is supposed to exhibit, as the Duke of Burgundy say’s “faith, charity, justice, sagacity, prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality, diligence, hope, and valor”(Knight’s code of Chivalry). These can be summed up to the most admirable rules of the chivalric code: honor, loyalty and Christianity. Gawain is admirable for these qualities in which he possesses. He shows loyalty to both his earthly kings and heavenly king. The knights are “renowned after the name of Christ” and “their king [is] most high in pride (Sir Gawain, 52). He must honor his uncle, King Arthur, his host, and God, in everything he does. Gawain shows his loyalty towards King Arthur by taking the challenge made by the Green Knight. Gawain tells Author that he will take the battle because, “[he] [is] the weakest […] and the least loss, if [he] live[s] not” (Sir Gawain, lines 354-55). He is so loyal toward the king that he is willing to sacrifice his own life for his uncle, because his uncle would be a much bigger loss. Gawain honors his uncle by not giving up; this would have disappointed his uncle tremendously because as a part of the chivalric code, it is a knight’s duty to be truthful. He shows loyalty to both his uncle and the Green Knight when he honors the Green Knights wish for him to meet him at the “Green Chapel” on New Year’s morning for “a nimble knock in return” (Sir Gawain,lines451-453). Gawain’s loyalty to King Arthur also extends to his behavior toward his host. Everyday Gawain is to exchange with the host whatever he received from that day. When Gawain tells the host, “while I remain in your mansion, your command I will obey,” he shows extreme honor towards the host (Sir Gawain, line 1093). Along with his loyalty to his host and earthly lord, he puts his faith in God as he prays to the Virgin Mary. “When Gawain sets out on his journey to find the Green Chapel, he finds himself lost, and only after praying to the Virgin Mary does he find his way” (“Sir Gawain”). By praying during hard times such as when he needed lodging, and when “…he doffed his helm, and with honor he thanked Jesus…” for giving him lodging, he shows his honor and faithfulness to God (Sir Gawain, line 773). Every choice Gawain makes exemplifies his effort in staying true to the code of chivalry. Gawain is admirable for never giving up. He succeeds at passing the trials that test his devotion and faith in Christianity. One critic of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight characterizes nature as “rough and indifferent” and states that, nature invades and disrupts order in the major events of the narrative” (“Sir Gawain”). This nature includes both the nature such as wildlife and nature such as Mother Nature. Along the way to his appointment with the Green knight, Gawain encountered many harsh occasions where he could have just given up. He faces harsh conditions such as, wars with worms, wolves, wood- trolls, bulls, bears, boars, and ogres (Sir Gawain, lines 720-23). It later goes on to mention that “death had met often” (Sir Gawain, line 725). Things will get a lot worse before they get better for Gawain, in this situation. Gawain is in a...
tracking img