In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Poet Pearl, Sir Gawain, knight of the Round Table, acts chivalrously, yet his intents are insincere and selfish. It is the advent season in Middle Age Camelot, ruled by King Arthur when Poet Pearl begins the story. In this era citizens valued morals and expected them to be demonstrated, especially by the highly respected Knights of the Round Table. As one of Arthur’s knights, Sir Gawain commits to behaving perfectly chivalrous; however, Gawain falls short of this promise. Yes, he acts properly, but he is not genuine. The way one behaves is not enough to categorize him as moral; one must also be sincere in thought. Gawain desires to be valued as a prestigious knight and only preforms chivalrous deeds for reasons of personal gain. First, Gawain flaunts his chivalry in public when he volunteers to fight the Green Knight. One year later, this supposedly strong willed Catholic only considers God when necessary for his well-being. Furthermore, the sole reason why Gawain did not run away, and went to fight the Green Knight in the cave is because he already obtained the green sash; therefore fear was not of the essence. Observers assume that since Gawain is a Knight of the Round Table who courageously sacrifices himself for his uncle, the young man is a selfless hero. In contrast to popular belief, Gawain is not chivalrous; he lacks a pure motive, his intents are selfish, and he only acts morally courageous to be a regarded as an honorable knight.
In volunteering to replace his uncle and fight the Green Knight, Sir Gawain appears earnest in his desire to serve the king. However, this act lacks a pure motive, Gawain volunteers to ...
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Gawain, along with the people of Camelot, believes in the false concept of his chivalry. Previously, Gawain worked hard to impress his observers by acting nobly (hiding his insincere motives). Gawain’s hamartia climaxes when he nearly gets his head cut off. Gawain feels immediate shame after being spared for his courage. His remorse leads to a resolution when Gawain realizes he is not courageous; his motives for volunteering to play the game where selfish, he is not honestly chivalrous, and he cowardly bears the green sash. Gawain takes ownership of his impure motives, selfishness, and lack of moral courage by confessing to the green sash and wearing it in Camelot. Since Gawain is aware of his previous mental mistakes, he returns to Camelot with a renewed consciousness. Gawain has now evolved to a genuine knight who is pure, selfless, moral, and chivalrous.
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