The Morality Test In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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The Morality Test No matter where we go in the world, we will always be surrounded and tempted by sin. These temptations test our character and morality, and they prove that our human nature inherently causes us to fall to the sins that encompass us. Even though the world is a dark and immoral place to live, we all value our lives and are prepared to do almost anything to protect ourselves from harm’s way. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the green girdle serves as symbol that highlights Gawain’s incessant love for life that tempts him to stray from his knightly code of chivalry. Temptations that function to separate us from our morality are difficult to overcome. Throughout the poem, Gawain struggles to reject the temptations provided…show more content…
Gawain’s acceptance of Lady Bertilak’s girdle causes him to progressively lose himself internally in order to save his physical life. Gawain appears to be the perfect image of a knight, who exhibits himself as worthy and noble when he accepts the Green Knight’s challenge. Known to be “honored all over the world,” his remarkable valor and devout behavior define his character. He loses his honorable reputation, though, when he disrespects the honor of King Bertilak. Disgracing his knightly code, Gawain fails to exchange all of his gifts with the king and lies, without hesitation, to the king when he claims that “what [he] owed [King Bertilak] [he has] paid [King Bertilak]” (1941). Gawain directly lies to him without hesitation, proving that his conscience does not seem to be effecting his actions. Lying is a common action, but generally, it causes us to feel remorseful and guilty over our wrongs. Gawain breaks the code of chivalry that requires a knight to be loyal and honest, but he is not regretful due to his apparent selfish nature (“Code of Chivalry, 2 and 15”). He makes a deal with the king to “[trade] profit for profit,” yet he dishonestly “[hides] [Lady Bertilak’s] love gift” rather than honoring the king’s wishes (1677, 1874). Gawain makes a promise that he fails to fulfill. The girdle drives him to destruction because it pulls him away from what he knows to be good and…show more content…
Instead of continuing his faith in God, Gawain places his faith in a worldly object––one that he suspects might prove to be more sufficient than a spiritual being. He wears the girdle “determined to save his neck when he [bends] it towards death.” Mistakenly, Gawain turns his back on God and relies solely on the girdle, illustrating that the amount he values his life is greater than the amount he values his faith in God. The girdle causes his faith to deteriorate, and he strays from the primary source of all of his past success––God. It is often hard to believe and remain faithful in the things that we are unable to physically see; in order to be truly successful, though, maintaining a strong and steadfast faith in the things we believe in will, in the end, be the most rewarding. Gawain is unsuccessful in loving God unconditionally; due to his fear of losing his life, he is not willing to do anything that will put him in harm’s way––not even for God (“Code of Chivalry, 1”). He gives up his faith which provides a clear depiction of his weakness and inability to stand up for his beliefs. The girdle tempts him to take a wrong turn down the path of life, and it guides him away from God. Gawain, as human as the rest of us, is easily distracted by the things of the world; he lets worldly pleasures stand in the way of the important things in life. The things that jerk us away
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