Loyalty, courage, honor, purity, and courtesy are all attributes of a
knight that displays chivalry. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is truly a story
of the test of these attributes. In order to have a true test of these
attributes, there must first be a knight worthy of being tested, meaning that
the knight must possess chivalric attributes to begin with. Sir Gawain is self
admittedly not the best knight around. He says "I am the weakest, well I know,
and of wit feeblest; / and the loss of my life [will] be least of any" (Sir
Gawain, l. 354-355). To continue on testing a knight that does not seem worthy
certainly will not result in much of a story, or in establishing a theme.
Through the use of symbols, the author of Sir Gawain is able to show that Gawain
possesses the necessary attributes to make him worthy of being tested. He also
uses symbols throughout the tests of each individual attribute, and in revealing
where Gawain's fault lies. The effective use of these symbols enables the
author to integrate the test of each individual attribute into a central theme,
or rather one overall test, the test of chivalry.
To establish the knight as worthy, the author first shows Gawain's
loyalty to his king. The Green Knight challenges anyone in the hall to the
beheading game and no one takes him up on it. Arthur, angered by the Green
Knight's taunting, is about to accept the challenge himself when Gawain steps in
saying "would you grant me this grace" (Sir Gawain, l. 343), and takes the ax
from Arthur. This is a very convenient way for the author to introduce Gawain
and also to show Gawain's loyalty to Arthur, but it seems almost too convenient.
There is an entire hall full of knights, why does Gawain alone step up? Why is
it that a superior knight such as Lancelot does not step up? The Green Knight
is big and of course he is green, which might explain some of the delay in
Cite This Essay
(1999, 10). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Test of One Knight's Chivalric Attrib. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Sir-Gawain-Green-Knight-Test-One-4740.html
"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Test of One Knight's Chivalric Attrib" StudyMode.com. 10 1999. 10 1999 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Sir-Gawain-Green-Knight-Test-One-4740.html>.
"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Test of One Knight's Chivalric Attrib." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Sir-Gawain-Green-Knight-Test-One-4740.html.