Sir Gawain - The Noble Knight

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Sir Gawain - The Noble Knight

Sir Gawain is a nephew of King

Arthur and the brother of Sir Gaheris

and Sir Gareth. In the poem he is

described by the author as "the good

knight" and "most courteous" (1. 109,639).

His character is shown through supernatural

tests when he steps in for King Arthur and

takes the challenge of the Green Knight on

himself. Then his second test in the poem is to

withstand the lust of the Green Knight's wife.

Both of these challenges Sir Gawain passes,

and gains more respect and honor than he had before.

The tasks that he accomplishes prove once

more the true Gawain and help the reader to

understand his character more clearly.

Sir Gawain is a hero in the poem, and as always, heroes

have to overcome all their foes and many dangers. The same

heroism and presence of supernatural forces are also found

in Beowulf. Beowulf fights with dangerous enemies

and creatures all around him. On his way to the Green

Knight's chapel, Sir Gawain encounters many wonders and

monstrous foes: "So many were the wonders he wandered

among ... Now with serpents he wars, now with savage

wolves ... And giants that came gibbering from the jagged

steeps ... He had met with many mishaps and mortal harms"

( 2.718-725). As we see the author shows his character as a mighty

warrior, maybe even with supernatural power. Yet it is not clear

how he could fight with giants and was afraid at the first sight of the

Green Knight. As author describes the Green Knight, "Half a

giant on earth I hold him to be..." (1.140). If he is half a giant and

later we see that Sir Gawain is fighting with giants, it is not clear

here why everyone in Camelot at first is afraid of the Green Knight.

Sir Gawain appears, as a real hero and a noble

knight, almost from the very beginning of the

poem when he is accepting the challenge of the

Green Knight. No one is brave enough to accept the

beheading game proposed by the Green Knight,

and if no one of the knights will accept the

challenge, then king Arthur has to accept it,

so that he and his knights will not be regarded

as cowards. Sir Gawain, as a noble knight who

truly serves his king, takes the challenge upon himself

when he says to the Arthur, " Would you grant me the grace"
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