Sir Gawain: The Ideal Knight

Sir Gawain: The Ideal Knight

Throughout the Arthurian legends, Sir Gawain seems to be the epitome of a noble knight. He is always putting his king before himself, repeatedly sacrificing his own life in some way for King Arthur. He is an honorable knight that lives up to his word. This is evident in both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell." In these stories, Gawain lives up to the expectations of a knight belonging to the legendary Round Table.

In "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell," King Arthur is accused of unrightfully giving away Gromer Somer Joure's lands to Sir Gawain. Gromer Somer Joure asks Arthur a question, which Arthur must answer if he wants his life to be spared. Arthur, going against the instructions of Gromer Somer Joure, tells Gawain of his predicament. He tells Gawain that he must not speak of the situation to anyone else. Gawain responds by telling Arthur, "I am not that man that wold you dishonour." ("Ragnell" 150) It is apparent that Gawain is an honorable person that keeps his word. Arthur would not confide in him, otherwise.

Gawain's commitment to King Arthur is even more evident as the story goes on. Arthur finds an old hag, Dame Ragnell, who knows the answer to the question he has been asked. She asks in return, "Thou must graunt me a knighte to wed--his name is Sir Gawen." ("Ragnell" 280-281) Arthur cannot agree to this without consulting Gawain. When Arthur tells Gawain about his encounter with the hag, Gawain brushes it off as if it is nothing. He does not fear marrying the hag as long as it will spare the life of King Arthur. He says to Arthur with great confidence:

Is this alle?

I shalle w...

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...s given his land to Sir Gawain. Arthur relies on Sir Gawain to get him out of the predicament that he is in. He also relies on Sir Gawain when the Green Knight confronts him in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Gawain offers to take Arthur's place in the Green Knight's Christmas game. Arthur quickly accepts without a second thought.

It is obvious that throughout the Arthurian legends that Arthur and Gawain are portrayed differently. One thing that remains the same is that there is a special bond between these two characters. Gawain is always the knight that is ready to defend Arthur at all times.

Works Cited

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams et. 7th Edition, Volume 1. New York: Norton, 2000. 156-210

Sands, Donald B. Ed. Middle English Verse Romances. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., 1966.
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