Chastity In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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The lines 1550-1553 from the Pearl poets epic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight epitomizes two of the most important virtues of a noble knight, and Sir Gawain, the man the story follows, defines what is a true knight. He holds a place next to King Arthur and the queen as well as exemplifying two of a knights most important virtues. The first being chastity and the second being courteousness, both however, are very much entwined in this tale. Throughout this epic and many other Arthurian legends praised these traits in the knight and as we shall see, Sir Gawain although still very much human, is a master of both. The virtue of chastity is extremely important in Arthurian legend and we can see this from examining Gawain’s shield. The virgin Mary…show more content…
Gawain is courteous to no end, even asking for permission to “abandon [his] bench and stand by [Arthur]” (Pearl Poet l. 344) so he may risk his own life instead of his kings to abide by the Green Knights game. He even humbly states that he “[is] the weakest” (l. 354) and that it would be the least lost of he was to parish which is untrue. Gawain is also extremely courteous when he is denying the wife’s attempts to seduce him saying he is “a knight unworthy” (l.1245). He plays a game of wits as he must not offend her advances but at the same time must not let the wife win the “game” because then he would have to lay with her and that would be uncourteous to his host, Lord Bertilak. The only time Gawain faults in his courteousness is when he refuses to acknowledge the agreement he made with Lord Bertilak which was “whatever [Lord Bertilak] win[s] in the wood shall at once be [Gawain’s] and whatever gain [Gawain] may get [he] shall give in exchange” (ll. 1107-08). Gawain fails this agreement when he keeps the green girdle given to him by Bertilaks wife as he believes it will save his
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