Sir Gawain & The Green Knight (Part 4) - Gawain’s Lie
When Gawain received the green girdle from the host’s lady, it spurred much controversy for the rest of the story. The problem being is that when Gawain encounters the Green Knight, he withholds the information of acquiring the green girdle, which is said to make him unable to be hurt. At the end of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight though, we encounter opinions of how bad Gawain's lie really was from three sources: King Arthur, Sir Gawain, and Bertilak the Green Knight. Its very interesting to see though how all three respond because they are all different and quite shocking.
Arthur's reaction to Gawain's tale is one of humor and lightheartedness. The poet refers to Gawain telling the knights of Camelot about his encounter at the Green Chapel. Gawain then shows everyone the scar and shows them the girdle, which quite embarrasses him, however Arthur and his fellow knights laugh out loud. For Gawain's sake, all the men and women take up the girdle as a symbol, wearing green silk baldrics (belt worn over one’s shoulder) on their arms. This response to Gawain’s tale seems to indicate Arthur forgiving Gawain and saying that all men have sinned and will continue to sin, by sharing in Gawain's misery though, Arthur is offering him some peace of mind. On the other hand, there is something too easy going about Arthur, which recalls the youthful, inexperienced, fun loving court from the beginning of the tale. Gawain's mark of weakness is seemingly turned into a fashion statement, regardless of how Gawain ridiculed himself.
Sir Gawain's opinion of his sin seems quite extreme when he discovers that the Green Knight and the host are one in the same, Gawain yells at himself, saying, “Accursed be a cowardly and covetous heart! / In you is villainy and vice, and virtue laid low!” (lines 2374–2375). He continues to decimate himself as one who has gone against the chivalric code and is a disgrace to the knights. He uses...
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