Sir Gawain - An Ideal Symbol of Chivalry

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Sir Gawain - An Ideal Symbol of Chivalry

The chivalric code is a very complex, and perhaps somewhat foreign concept to a modern person. There are many rules and taboos that a knight must obey. Indeed, the very concepts of honor, love, and humility have been raised to the highest conceivable power, making it almost impossible for a mortal to become a true, perfect knight. Sir Gawain, in the passage [Norton, 1535-1622] of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, proves himself to be an ideal symbol of chivalry. One of the symbols of knighthood is a lady of knight's heart; knight's behavior with ladies is important in general, and Sir Gawain behaves as a true knight with the hostess of the castle. Another important side of being a knight includes the skill of carving an animal, and that is also described in the passage.

One aspect of being a knight is choosing a lady of his heart. The knight is supposed to perform noble tasks in her honor, thus glorifying her name. Love is knight's inspiration for all of his actions, and when he thinks he has done enough glorious deeds, he comes back to his lady. If his lady is kind enough, she will marry him, unless she is already married. In the passage, the host's wife tries to seduce Sir Gawain. However, she is not the lady of his dreams, and since Sir Gawain follows the principle -- "to remember a knight is to reflect goodness in everything he does, for that is what makes a knight honorable, " he politely turns her offer down. It is possible that Sir Gawain refuses hostess' charms because he is afraid of her husband; however, with the whole story evolving around Sir Gawain's nobility, it is highly unlikely that this is a reason for him.

Sir Gawain does this in a way that does not make the ...

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... are riveting in their strict observance. The chivalric code is full of rules for the knight's conduct in any situation, one example of which is hunting and carving animals.

There is, however, one central idea that every knight is a servant; a knight is the one who does only good in the name of love and never brings dishonor to anyone. In this second test, Sir Gawain proves to be a true knight when he is tempted by the hostess of the Green Castle. So far nothing can turn him from his path, for he is a true knight.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H.Abrams, Volume 1. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993. 200-254.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Ed. J.R.R.Tolkien, E.V. Gordon. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1967. Online. Internet. Available HTTP:
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