Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

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In the Pearl poet’s Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, an epic talk emerges to reveal a man’s journey of honesty, morals, and honor. Sir Gawain accepts a challenge in place of his uncle King Arthur, with hidden tests and viable consequences. As Gawain begins his journey, he proudly upholds his knightly honor and seeks out his own death; however, Gawain gives into his human emotion and is soon distracted from his chivalrous motives. As a result of this distraction, Gawain is marked with a scar to show his dishonest and cowardly deception. This scar is a visible reminder to Sir Gawain that honor and prestige cannot always protect against the desires of the flesh. Gawain pays for his sins at the Green Knights axe (Stone 136). This sin tarnishes his honor and causes Gawain to face the rest of his life as a witness to human frailty.

To begin with, Sir Gawain enters the castle seeking refuge. There he makes the deal with the King which invokes his knightly honor, obligating him to fulfill the pact. During his first hunt, the King seeks doe, while, his wife stalks Gawain in the same manner. Both the doe and Gawain attempt to flee from the potential danger that exists. However, just as the one arrow captures the doe, Gawain is caught with one kiss. The doe, being the easiest of the three animals to kill but quick on its feet to flee from danger as was Gawain at the Lady’s attempts. Gawain must first find a way to discourage the Lady without offending her, which proves to be difficult (Putter 118). Gawain must not cause the Lady to become upset because the king might become angry and then pass this aggression on to her husband. In his approach to turning her away, “Gawain first gives a gently dismissive smile, and next utters...

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...s corrupted by the need for subterfuge in concealing the gift of the girdle; in which acct his loyalty to his host necessarily disappeared” (Stone136). Because Gawain did not completely give in to the Lady’s beauty, he only received his mark instead of facing his death. Though Gawain has the one visible scar to represent his folly, humanity has many hidden beneath its dark veil of sin.

Works Cited Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Second Edition. Translated with an introduction by Brian Stone. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.

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