Romantic literature of the Middle Ages have strong themes of love. In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” courtly love, amongst many other types of loves, can be analyzed linear to the main character’s struggles and accomplishments. The story has an idealization of romanticism and the following paper will determine whether spiritual, courtly, and erotic types of love are considered a suffering or an ennoblement towards the main character.
Under the royal court of King Arthur, Sir Gawain and the rest of the nobles are known as “the most chivalrous and courteous knights known to Christendom (“Gawain” 51).” Gawain’s love for his faith is evident throughout the story, which may or may not be used to the advantage of his outcome. It is evident that sin is Gawain’s greatest challenge, and his inner struggle with maintaining spiritual love affects his eventual outcome. Starting with his decision to accept the Green Knight’s challenge, Gawain is given “the blessing of God (“Gawain” 370)” by King Arthur which acts as a sign of encouragement. Due to the spirituality of the situation, the challenge is bound by a divine oath which Gawain is obligated to “solemnly swear (“Gawain” 394)” by; this comes as a disadvantage to Gawain, for if he did not go through with the promise, he would only be humiliating himself and going against his moral code, but by swearing to God, he is honorably going against his conscience and relationship with the Lord. As the story progresses, Gawain uses spiritual love to ask for protection, even imitating the cross sign and saying, “Be near me in my need (“Gawain” 762).” Again, this suggests that Gawain is using spiritual love to get through the challenge, as he...
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...e Green Knight, his fault is exposed and he admits to breaking courtly code as he was “found to be flawed and false (“Gawain” 2382).” Although he made a minor mistake by going against his courtliness, his courtly love was pure and, in turn, the Green Knight, who was Bertilak all along, spared his life when it came time to finish his end of the challenge when he said, “by confessing your failings you are free from fault (“Gawain” 2391).”
In conclusion, Gawain’s journey throughout the tale had been hindered by instances of erotic and spiritual love. Spiritual, by means of the holy oath he made that bound him with God, and Erotic love, by successfully being tempted by Bertilak’s wife, which in turn caused him to suffer. However it is the existence of Gawain’s courtly love which ultimately saved his life, by being an honorable and truthful person with good intentions.
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