NAME INSTRUCTOR COURSE DATE The Five Knightly Virtues of Sir Gawain Sir Gawain and The Green Knight is the most known 14th century poem that depicts the Arthurian legend. It has been translated from a Middle English dialect by Simon Armitage; unfortunately, very little is known about the original author. Sir Gawain is the protagonist as he is the major source of conflict when he struggles to decide whether his “knightly virtues” are more important than his own life.
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.
His notorious green coloration and immense size are clear signs of his supernatural nature. This unnatural appearance is a clear indicator that the Green Knight is an evil creature and, as such, the citizens of Arthur's castle are frightened and
At the beginning he is both the herald and the trickster, he is overall the devil figure, in the end he is Gawain’s mentor, ultimately the evil figure that turned good. Though Green Knight’s role as the mentor of Gawain is the most important. The Green Knight turned out to be the host, so he knew if Gawain would stay true to their deal, when Gawain didn’t The Green Knight cut Gawain once. Uncoincidentally, The Green Knight swung at Gawain’s neck three times and only cut him slightly the third time, just like the third time that Gawain didn’t give the girdle to the host when Gawain should have. These three times also tie into the Holy Trinity.
He is described as a man, “None had seen...with sight in that hall so grand.” (197) Immediately he asks for the leader of the house to which he extends his request for a contest to King Arthur. The unnamed knight then reveals the rules of the game. Carl Martin, in his essay, The Cipher of Violence, elaborates. “ The Green Knight reveals here that while the typical warrior-noble engineers his aggrandizement through public displays of prowess… he is also bound by a strict code of behavior meant to restrain and refine his aggression.”
The way the Green Knight is explained in the beginning of the poem sets him aside from the other characters, because his character is explained with more details. “In these details the Green Knight is told to be in a splay of green and so was the maine of his mighty destrier, but the knight, his eyes were like lightning, flashed, / and it seemed to many a man, / that any man who clashed/ with him would not long stand” (Gawain 1-24). The Green Knight is put up so high above the other characters and he is made to seem that he can never be stopped and will take anyone down who attempted to clash with the knight. This shows the knight is honored that either he is never clashed with because people are afraid of being killed or that he is so honored by most people that they never return “a twelvemonth and a day”. As the Green Knight comes to King Arthur, he is explaining how he needs someone to go against him to exchange stroke for stroke, and who better to be brave enough to do it than Sir Gawain (Gawain 67-82).
Courage in her opinion is “A Virtue central to Knighthood” (ALLEN). In the 14th Century, there was a huge public recognition of courage, people wanted to be recognised as possessing it. The Character who possesses the most courage in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is most definitely Sir Gawain
Lines 2404-2406 in particular, the Green Knight seems to be joking or jesting with Gawain. This juxtaposition to Gawain's serious tone can also been seen when he explains his wrong doing to the king arthur and the court (lines 2505-2512). Again he serious tone can be seen in the word choose, “scar,” “damages,” “misdeed,” “dishonesty,” ext, yet the court just laughs at him (lines 2513-2514). They even jest at him ignoring the moral of his tale (lines 2511-2512) and begin where belts like his (lines 2515-2521) Everyone around his forgives hims easily because, as discussed earlier humans will inevitably make mistakes.
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.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose author is unknown, is an Arthurian Romance/Epic that holds a degree of Christian symbolism. These Christian symbols are intermixed with Britannic Pagan traditions and themes in order to appeal more to the common British people at the time of the early Christianization of Britain. This can be supported by the stories of kings being created in the earlier centuries throughout history. In this particular story, this symbolism is important since all the knights of King Arthur’s Court were supposed to follow a certain chivalrous code of conduct, whether present in the courts or away on some other venture. The chivalric code being the embodiment of Christian virtue and valor, which was expected to be personified
Sir Gawain is one of King Arthur’s knights. It is Christmas time in Camelot, the time of the year where knights return home and people celebrate their achievements as well as the birth of Jesus. Every year they have a dinner with the king that must begin with a story before eating. No one has a story to tell which causes the king to postpone the dinner until, all of a sudden, a green knight appeared. This story contains ideas known as the hero’s journey.
The ideas of Chivalry was expressed through out all sorts of different literary works, such as songs, poems, and more. The Two stories of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Morte D’Arthur express some of the ideas of Chivalry. The first Chivalry idea that is seen in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the loyalty of Sir Gawain. Gawain on his way to fight the green knight, stays the night with a lord and his lady.
In fact, the green giant thinks of Sir Gawain as a noble man. However, Sir Gawain gives the armor a symbol of shame, but it is also a symbol of the fact that we humans were designed to be neither perfect nor imperfect. When Gawain returned to the knights at the round table, they too did not look at him with shame, but rather embraced the green girdle. Neither Sir Gawain nor the knights are wrong in shame or embracement, but rather both are right, thus creating a paradox. In fact, the poem closes with a paradox of the thorny crown of Christ, giving a validation of the meanings within the poem.
Literary Analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight The selection of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight follows the basic format of the adventure. The author emphasizes communion to show the loyalty and community between King Arthur and his knights. The symbolism behind the relationship between Sir Gawain to humans and the Green Knight to the merciful God further shows the relations of this medieval romance to the Bible.
Although Sir Gawain does not want to take the Green Knight’s challenge, he honorable takes the place of King Arthur and lies about his worth. The Green Knight arrives carrying an axe and holly, symbolizing peace and war, but tells them that he “travel[s] in peace and seek[s] no trouble” (12). Despite saying that he wants no trouble, he proposes a game involves one strike with his axe by whoever is brave enough for another done by him a year later. The court is baffled by his request, and when no one speaks up to take the Green Knights challenge, he ridicules them by conveying that “all the pageantry and power of the Round Table made nothing by the words of one man” (13). After the Green Knight finishes mocking the Knights of the Round Table, Arthur boldly takes the challenge until Sir Gawain politely requested to take his place.