Marie Borroff's 'Sir Gawain And The Green Knight'

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Age after age, humanity has continually struggled, fought, and attempted to attain perfection in almost every aspect of life yet we have seemingly failed every time. Throughout Marie Borroff’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain shows that although mankind strive to live by certain values, all men are in fact human at the core and therefore can never be perfect, and thus display forms of their true and natural weakness when exposed to adversity. The scenes depicting Lord Bertilak’s hunting trips are cleverly interwoven with the temptation of Sir Gawain in his bed chambers in order to demonstrate that even the most civilized character is never perfect. At Camelot, Gawain is well-known for his adherence to 5 virtues that…show more content…
During the 3 swings from the axe of the Green Knight, we are able to view several parts of Gawain’s true character. During the first stroke, Gawain flinches and shrinks his shoulders back slightly; clearly fearing the pain his natural instincts tell him accompanies the blade. The Green Knight scoffs at this display of cowardice, exclaiming, “You are not Gawain the glorious, the green man said…and now you flee for fear and have felt no harm” (58. 2270-2272) mocking the brave Gawain’s momentary lack of courage and pointing out the cracks in his character that illustrate his true lack of perfection. During the second stroke, Gawain remains resolute and shows no weakness through the Green Knight’s second feint and Gawain survives the final stroke without so much as a slight nick from the great blade. Gawain proves that although many men strive to live by virtues that allow them to be unfaltering in the face of impending adversity such as the act that Gawain attempts to fulfill unwaveringly. Gawain fails in that he displays his natural human weakness to flee from adversity on the first stroke, and displays his will to live up to his virtues and strong character in the second and third strokes. Yet this scene proves that no matter how hard Gawain (or anyone for that matter) tries, they will always remain human and thus will never ever be able to be absolutely perfect in anything that they do and will inevitably make many mistakes as they struggle for
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