In almost every example of romantic epics, and definitely every story concerning King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the characters carefully adhere to a strict code known as the chivalric code.. The five main tenets of chivalric code or in other words the knightly code are: showing courage and bravery, being honest, having honor and being respected among peers, being kind to others, and being courteous and well-mannered especially toward females. Gawain is the very embodiment of these chivalric values but through his encounter with the Green knight and the lady he fails to uphold the code because of its rigidness and strictness.. Violence is the mechanism that Gawain uses to gain his capital which is honor and the upholding of the chivalric code. Even though violence does lead Gawain to respect and honor in the end of the poem Gawain points out how cowardly it is to follow a code that is so strict, that it allows no room for any human mistakes and that he was justified in trying to save his life over his honor.
Sir Gawain fulfills his requirements of the five tenets right from the beginning of the poem, as he shows courage and why he can be seen as the greatest knight in the round table. Sir Gawain asks Arthur to allow him to take the challenge. When the Green Knight first challenges the knights in Arthurs Court, it is King Arthur who takes up the challenge at first. But Gawain is quick to step in take the place of King Arthur as he says “I am the weakest of your warriors and feeblest of wit; loss of my life would be grieved the least” (Gawain 354-355). Gawain does not think highly of himself and feels that the only reason he is a knight of Arthur's court is because he is Arthur's nephew...
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...rtesy toward females are all tested in the poem. Sir Gawain who is supposed to embody these principles is tested by the Green knight and the lady and he fails to uphold the chivalric code. The failure leaves Gawain scarred for life but it also reflects a change in attitude towards capital violence and the role that it should play in the knights’ life. Gawain makes clear that there is a limit to how loyal and strict a knight can be when he is following the chivalric code and that the demands of the code are so immense that eventually a knight will fail to uphold the code. But this failure to uphold the code and not adhering to capital violence does not show cowardice and is in reality just human mistakes that are expected and are justified
Armitage, Simon. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation. New York:
W.W. Norton, 2008. Print.
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