He did not have a good start, but his finish was beautiful. Gawaine starts out on the wrong path, but before he dies he forgives Lancelot and stands loyally with Arthur. The Once and Future King by T. H. White tells the story of how the famous King Arthur invented the peace making Round Table. Sir Gawaine was once King Arthur’s worst enemy until Arthur invited him to become one of the first knights of his might defeating Round Table.
There are many archetypes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that help Gawain on his hero's journey. While on his journey, Gawain has learns many different lessons while dealing with these characters. As he travels deeper into the “Zone of Magnified Power” (Campbell 71), he develops as an archetypal hero and recognizes the conflict on his community. A number of characters in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight play key archetypal roles in the perfecting of the hero’s moral development. Arthur, the king of Camelot, has become a kind of mentor for Sir Gawain.
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the theme is based on integrity, all of which is categorized in a romance. Knights are judged by their behavior and also by the code of chivalry. In this poem, King Arthur and his knights are challenged. The chivalry of King Arthur’s court is challenged by the Green Knight” however, in embarrassment of his fellow men King Arthur takes on the challenge himself only for Sir Gawain, his nephew, to take him on instead as he claims he has nothing to lose. To put it differently, Gawain’s integrity was challenged.
While the code of chivalry is intended to reflect concepts created by Christian morality, the real world applications of this code often end up setting the chivalrous at odds with the ideals they seek to uphold. Few stories exemplify this concept more than Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In the beginning of the poem, Sir Gawain is able to act both chivalrously and in accordance with his Christian code of morals. However, as the poem progresses, he is forced to make choices between the code of chivalry, and Christian ideals. Although in the beginning of the poem Gawain is able to satisfy both his chivalric duty and Christian ideals, he is later forced to compromise his Christian values for the sake of chivalry.
Whether it’s done intentionally or not, every work of literature addresses the human condition in some form or another. And the human condition is a complicated matter. It is humanity’s ceaseless internal struggle between what is good and what is evil and the nagging question as to which side humanity is defined by; which side is the mistake and which is the truth. For we are capable of both great evil and great good. According to George Bernard Shaw, a Native American elder once told him, “Inside of me there are two dogs.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a prominent leader in the existentialist and postmodern movement, once stated, “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.” Stereotypically, monsters are viewed as the foil to humanity, devoid of reason, compassion, and the gentle nature of humans. Contrary, humans are often portrayed as valiant and reasonable beings, who protect kin and society from evils. Nevertheless, there is only a small difference between the two sides, and they are brought into continued interaction with each other. In these interactions, by challenging the physical and psychological processes of human nature, “monsters” are able to test conventional understandings of humans, forcing them to choose between keeping
The tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—a well-known, late 14th century Middle English romance—embodies significant themes. These themes are successfully fulfilled by the influential characters in the story. One of these characters, Sir Gawain—the protagonist of the story and one of King Arthur’s knights—proves to be the hero of the story. Although he humbly denies it, Gawain has a repute of being a distinguished knight and loyal subject. In the story, Gawain is portrayed as possessing the acme of all knightly characteristics, yet, still has several attributes to master.
Sir Gawain and the Green knight is one of the oldest and best known Arthurian stories that is thought to date back to the late fourteenth century. A knight is understood to be a warrior and a strong individual who serves a monarch or leader, but what really makes a knight? What qualities and morals are expected of a knight? Are strength and prowess enough or are knights supposed to be chivalrous, courteous, brave, and honorable? If so, did they ever make mistakes or were they perfect?
1. The dichotomous Nature of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight The topic of spirituality, divinity and otherworldly phenomena is quite common in medieval literature and there is a multitude of contexts, in which these topics are addressed. The protagonists of those texts find themselves in a balancing act between the secular world and a supernatural world, where they need to overcome struggles to master the difficulties of their worlds’ dualisms. Be it an otherworld of fairies or the christian hereafter, those worlds and the mundane conduct often influence each other reciprocally in the stories of medieval literature.
The heroic knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight manifests many of the characteristics of the chivalric knight and hero. Among them, he proves to have modesty, honesty, commitment, courage, and an even temperament. As the Green Giant said,“You're the finest man that will ever walked this earth./So Gawain indeed stands out above all other knights" (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 335-336). Also, Sir Gawain engages in the activities/plot type that define him as a hero: the call, the journey, the helpers, the final ordeals, and then the life-renewing goal. Although he was almost the ideal model to fit the hero role, Sir Gawain does accomplish a single error while staying in the lord’s household.