Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The Ideal Medieval Knight
In Medieval times, much was expected of the knights that served the courts. Most importantly was that each knight was pledged to a strict code of chivalry. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is the ideal of a medieval knight. Sir Gawain directly exhibits the traits of knighthood and chivalry by practicing loyalty, strength and ability, and honesty throughout the story.
At the beginning of the story, the Green Knight charges into King Arthur’s court and demands a Christmas game. The Green Knight challenges “If any in this house such hardihood claims,/Be so bold in his blood, his brain so wild/As stoutly to strike one stroke for another,”[285-287] The exchange to be carried out a year and a day later at the Green Chapel. Out of loyalty to his liege, Sir Gawain volunteers to take King Arthur’s place in the contest, “…And for this folly befits not a king,/And 'tis I that have asked it, it ought to be mine,”[358-359].
Secondly, Sir Gawain exhibits strength and ability with “That the shock of the sharp blow shivered the bones/And cut the flesh cleanly and clove it in twain, That the blade of bright steel bit into the ground.”[line 424-426] thus cutting off the Green Knight’s head in one blow.
Lastly, Sir Gawain’s honesty also proves him to be an excellent example of a medieval knight. When Sir Gawain departs King Arthur’s court to keep his promise to the Green Knight, “Now, liege lord of my life, my leave I take;/the terms of this task too well you know.”[548-549]. Whereupon he searches for the Green Chapel to keep his word and complete game.
It is through Sir Gawain’s loyalty to his king, ability and strength, and honesty that makes him an ideal medieval knight. His valiant actions in the story prove Sir Gawain to be most capable of serving King Arthur’s court with utmost chivalry.
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