Theme Of Chivalry In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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The Arthurian romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, follows the fictional medieval life of a knight of the king’s round table. This tale is set in a time when the court is youthful, known throughout the land of Camelot, for their great honor. The protagonist, Sir Gawain, adherence to the knight’s code of conduct will be tested through a yearlong journey. This code of conduct involves the knights being chivalrous Christian men. The theme of chivalry interweaves though the tale as Sir Gawain undergoes a test to prove his worthiness to the court through a game, he is accompanied by Christian elements that strengthen him on the journey, while different interpretations of the round table’s knightly code are presented during the course of the…show more content…
A strange man, a knight that is green, appears asking a knight to play a Christmas game with him. He questions their courage and points out the court’s “big-mouth bragging” (line 312) when no knight steps forward. When the king volunteered to play the game one of his loyal knights stepped forward, Sir Gawain, because “five things meant more to Gawain than to most other men” (654-655). The five things: friendship, fraternity, purity, politeness, and purity are how chivalry is measured in the court (651-654). The Green Knight establishes the game so that “the terms of the contest are crystal clear” (394). Sir Gawain will strike the Green Knight on the neck with his sword and in a year the Green Knight will return the blow. Sir Gawain delivers the blow and the Green Knight simply places his severed head back on his neck. Sir Gawain now must spend the year seeking out the knight’s Green Chapel in order to fulfill the terms of the agreement (421-457). The scholar David Beauregard, gives insight into why the Green Knight is worthy to test the character of Sir Gawain. Beauregard discusses how the Green Knight is morally perfect, “in the standpoint of medivial moral theology” (146). The Green Knight is a guiding force for Gawain as learns about himself over the course of the year. Before he leaves his court he is dressed in a suit of armor, including a shield that had a pentangle painted on it, and “he…show more content…
A porter sees Gawain out of the countryside and offers him a chance to break his pact, “I shall swear by God…not a soul will know that you fled in fear” (2122;2124-1225). Gawain, on an honorable journey refuses the porter’s suggestion. He locates the Green Chapel and awaits destiny. This exemplifies Gawain’s commitment to his word. He has faltered, but still carries out the deal. When Gawain is to receive the blow he flinches, unlike the Green Knight. Beauregard explains how Gawain does not show fortitude, part of the chivalric code when it is his turn to receive a blow (153). It is revealed to Gawain that Bertilak is the Green Knight and is aware of Gawain cheating the game. (2358-2361). The Green Knight tells Sir Gawain he is “by far the most faultless fellow on earth” for his motive was to protect himself (2363). Gawain asks the Green Knight to “clear his clouded name” (2388) and the Green Knight informs Gawain he is “as polished and as pure as the day you were born” (2393-2394). Gawain still heavy with shame wears the girdle as a badge of his failure. He fails in one aspect as he is only a man who carried out the deed and repented, and was absolved twice, for breaking his word. He is remorseful which proves he is conscious of the knight’s code. This allows him to maintain his chivalry. The court received him with joy and wore girdles as well as a sign of
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