Courtesy in Sir Gawain and the Greenknight Essay

Courtesy in Sir Gawain and the Greenknight Essay

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Courtesy in Sir Gawain and the Greenknight


In modern society, Martha Stewart and Miss Manners are authorities in the social amenities of community gatherings, and they promote their ideas in television programs and books. But in the Middle Ages, elegant behavior is illustrated in the Middle English poem, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” in a detailed account of a holiday celebration at King Arthur’s castle. In this text, the idea of courtesy is shown as the foremost attribute of a knight, and King Arthur is introduced as the “most courteous of all” (26) rulers. In a mealtime setting, the lives and customs of “[t]he most noble knights known under Christ” (51) are displayed, and courteous behavior is established as the hallmark of knighthood. By showcasing the common experience of eating, the narrator reveals the significance of courtesy in courtly life and discloses the customs of this era. Indeed, the sequence, kind, and presentation of foods at the feast provide a framework for the courteous demeanor in this adventurous tale.

When the feast begins, servants enter wi...

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