In Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, the character of Sir Gawain is skillfully brought to life by the unknown author. Through the eyes of numerous characters in the poem, we see Gawain as a noble knight who is the epitome of chivalry; he is loyal, honest and above all, courteous. As the story progresses, Gawain is subjected to a number of tests of character, some known and some unknown. These tests tell us a great deal about Gawain's character and the struggles he faces internally. I will explore the various places in the poem where we learn about Gawain, either through others or through the tests he faces. By the end of the poem, we sense that we have come to know Gawain and have ventured a peek at his human side. However, we also realize that nothing short of perfection is acceptable to him.
Our first glimpse of Gawain occurs when the Green Knight suddenly appears at the New Year's celebration at Camelot. He offers a challenge for anyone to come forward and strike him with his ax. Twelve months and a day later, he will return the blow. No one steps forward to accept the dare. Embarrassed by his knights' lack of response, King Arthur accepts the challenge himself. At the fateful moment when Arthur is about to strike the blow, Gawain jumps up and says:
Would you grant me the grace,
To be gone from this bench and stand by you there,
If I without discourtesy might quit this board,...
I am the weakest, well I know, and of wit feeblest;
And the loss of my life would be least of any;
That I have you for uncle is my only praise;
My body, but for your blood, is barren of worth;
And for that this folly befits not a king,
And 'tis I that ...
... middle of paper ...
...ee that Gawain is not the perfect knight he strives to be. Neither we, nor the Green Knight, nor his fellow knights of the Round Table hold him to this standard of perfection. We read about the turmoil Gawain experiences thinking about his impending death at the hands of the Green Knight, and we understand why he accepts the girdle. We know he remains true until his fear of death overcomes him. All this proves he is only human. Yet Gawain only sees that he has been inconsistent in upholding the chivalric code, and this means failure to him. This is an indication of the standard Gawain has set for himself, and we see why he has the reputation he has. Despite all that has happened, Gawain is still a loyal, noble, honest and courteous knight.
Abrams, M. H. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1993.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- ... 93) or ‘iustyng’ (l. 97) with a fellow knight. Though the Green Knight’s manner is foreign, and though he interrupts the court’s Christmas celebrations, the nature of his challenge is not uncivil. Contrarily, it fulfils the demand for entertainment, and offers the ‘heart of civilisation’ the opportunity to prove itself to be truly great. The ambiguity of the Green Knight’s arrival extends onto the Green Knight as a character, as he is neither fully wild nor fully civil. As W.R.J Barron says, ‘the elements [of the Green Knight] are familiar, but their fusion in one person is unacceptable, incomprehensible’.... [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]
1731 words (4.9 pages)
- ... 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 does not want to fail and break his divine promise. He keeps a tight grip on his faith throughout the story, even attending mass for the three days he stays with Bertilak and his court. Although Gawain also practices courtly love, his biggest mistake was accepting the green girdle given to him by Bertilak’s wife, which instantly goes against his moral code and makes him impure in the eyes of God.... [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]
1054 words (3 pages)
- From all the reputable figures of the tale “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”; the Gawain-poet considered chivalry and the knightly code thee most righteous way to classify a gentleman within the medieval time period. King Arthur, Sir Gawain, and the Green Knight basked in the veneration of their peers and kingdom. Throughout the story these characters was presented in the esteemed glory, however, through the duration of the novella; the storyteller shown that each noble persona contained flaws.... [tags: Character Analysis, King Arthur]
931 words (2.7 pages)
- Marie De France’s Lanval is a remarkable short narrative that engages the reader into a world filled with unrealistic elements, but enhances on the true meaning of romance, chivalry and nature during the years that King Arthur reigned. “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight” unfortunately does not have an author that can be recognized but this epic poem demonstrates the ghastly adventure of a knight who decides to defend the honor of young King Arthur against a supernatural being in this malicious game of cat and mouse.... [tags: Compare and Contrast, Narrative Analysis]
1161 words (3.3 pages)
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Character Analysis Sir Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, is described by the unknown author of Gawain and the Green Knight as "the good knight" and "most courteous" (Norton, 204 & 215). Although young, Gawain understands the true meaning of chivalry and honor, therefore bases his lifestyle on the knightly Code of chivalry. This is exemplified through various tests that he faced, both with the Green Knight, and with the Knight's wife. If all knights were like Gawain, then the Round Table would be a much better place.... [tags: Essays Papers]
1307 words (3.7 pages)
- Zipcar is affected by its internal strengths and weaknesses with respect to competitors and is presented with opportunities and threats from its macro environment. By understanding these various factors, an organization may successfully thrive in the business environment at large. The following analysis of Keegan’s article “The Best New Idea in Business” provides a SWOT analysis of Zipcar, which illustrated the factors affecting the firm’s rapid growth. The internal strengths of a firm refer to positive factors with respect to competitors within an industry.... [tags: Article Analysis, Internal Strengths]
761 words (2.2 pages)
- A Lesbian's Perspective of Fried Green Tomatoes Last week my mother and I decided to rent a "woman's film," Fried Green Tomatoes. We sat mesmerized for 1 hour and 45 minutes by the narrative played out upon our small screen. However, as I realized by our discussion after the film, we had two very different experiences. While she enjoyed the film as a story about two "best friends," I read this friendship as an obvious lesbian relationship hidden within the repressed text of a popular, commercial film.... [tags: Film Movies]
2766 words (7.9 pages)
- Gunnar Boklund in “Hamlet” performs a partial-analysis on the character of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet: The only character who is presented almost entirely as a victim is Ophelia, a victim of the King’s fear and curiosity, her father’s servility and fundamental indifference to her, Hamlet’s misunderstanding of the situation and brutal treatment of her, and finally his fatal thrust through the arras in the closet scene. Her madness is, as I see it, a purely pathetic element in the play.... [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]
3001 words (8.6 pages)
- In the anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the character of Sir Gawain is portrayed as the imperfect hero. His flaws create interest and intrigue. Such qualities of imperfection cannot be found in the symbol of the pentangle, which he displays on his shield. This contrast between character and symbol is exposed a number of times throughout the poem allowing human qualities to emerge from Gawain’s knightly portrayal. The expectations the pentangle presents proves too much for Gawain as he falls victim to black magic, strays from God, is seduced by an adulterous woman, and ultimately breaks the chivalric code by lying to the Green Knight.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Gawain, The Green Knight]
1170 words (3.3 pages)
- Many people take life for granted however, only some realize how valuable time is once they are diagnosed with a severe and deadly illness. Canadian Cancer statistics state that every two in five Canadians will develop Cancer in their lifetime and one in four of them will die. In the novel The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green, Hazel Grace Lancaster is diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer at the age of seventeen; She only learns how to spend her life positively when she meets her significant other who encourages her to attend support groups.... [tags: Character Comparison, Time Value]
1326 words (3.8 pages)