The Nature of Chivalry developed in
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”
Throughout his adventures in the story, Gawain discovers, develops, and demonstrates his own chivalric qualities. He makes a few mistakes along the way, but strives to settle for nothing less than perfection in loyalty, courage and courtesy. However, this is investigated in relation to an ideal, the notion of Chivalry, or how a medieval knight is supposed to act. Gawain showed his loyalty to Arthur from the start of the story, when he accepted the challenge of the Green Knight in Arthur’s place. Even when the decision was left to the other knights, so Gawain could obtain their opinions, they decided “that the crowned King should be relieved of the challenge, and Gawain given the game.” (Medieval Romances, 336) His loyalty to Guinevere, wife of the king, was evident when he asked Arthur, “Bid me rise from my seat and stand by you, so that without discourtesy to my liege lady the Queen I can leave her side….” (Medieval Romances, 336) Throughout the story, his loyalty to God and Christ prevailed. The pentangle on his armor showed that he “put all his trust in the five wounds that Christ bore on the cross.” (Medieval Romances, 343) It was also “seen both as the cognizance of Gawain, the perfect knight, and as a magical symbol used to ward off evil.” (Hardman, 248) During his search for the Green Chapel, Gawain stopped his journey on Christmas Eve to seek a proper place to worship God on the religious holiday - and he found Hautdesert, where the true tests of his character would occur. Although there is no evidence that there are any flaws in Gawain’s loyalty to God, there is “evidence of the elementary nature of his faith” throughout the story - Gawain only does what he is absolutely obligated to do in order to keep that loyalty to God flawless. (Anderson, 351) Gawain’s courage was most evident, again, when he accepted the challenge of the Green Knight. None of...
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