Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl Poet: A Review

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Joshua N. Bollar
Ms. Manning
Honors English 10 Period 4
24 September 2010
Gawain Passes
In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl Poet, Gawain quests for the chapel of the Green Knight whom he has promised to meet to complete his challenge a year and a day after the New Year. Throughout his journey, Gawain faces challenges, including the test of temptation, the beheading game, and the exchange game, each testing his mind and his moral standards. As a knight of the round table, Gawain is bound to the code of Chivalry, a code of conduct for knights. With the challenges he faces, Gawain employs many tactics to succeed at each. With his strategies, Gawain displays that one can pass any test if they have a focused mind and use the code of chivalry as a guideline, rather than a set of commandments.

After arriving at the castle of the lord Bertilak de Hautdesert, Gawain is welcomed, and the following day, faces the test of temptation of his chivalry and mental prowess through the hostess, Bertilak’s wife. Gawain is requested by the lord to entertain his wife while he, Bertilak is away hunting, and Gawain agrees. Each day they meet, Gawain is tempted by her physically, because he thinks that “her body and her bearing were beyond praise” the first time that he sees her (Part 2. line 944). This description even portrays lust for her from Gawain, because the description of Guenevere, who is supposed to be “without a flaw,” is not as long or as detailed as the description of the hostess (1. 81). However, he maintains a focused mind and is not distracted by her even when “her face and her fair throat freely displayed; / her bosom all but bare, and her back as well,” and he focuses on his journey and on the promise he made (3. 1740-1). During his meetings with her, he uses chivalry as a type of basic guideline, because he attempts to dissuade her from kissing him, but eventually is led into it through courtesy. However, when he does accept these kisses,...
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