The poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, tells of one knights struggle to uphold the code of chivalry. What makes a knight a noble knight? Why does this social standard force us to hold this individual to higher expectations? What should we think about Sir Gawain when he breaks his vows in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight? How does Sir Gawain and Arthur’s court pass the test of The Green Knight? This paper will argue that Sir Gawain, despite his mistakes, is the greatest knight because of his repentance and the lesson he learns when he encounters The Green Knight.
Knights are held to a higher standard when in comparison to their peers. Morality, self-presentation, knowledge and vows are a few important components to take into consideration when judging a knights character. These characteristics are what makes Sir Gawain a well-respected knight, well known in his community. Why are all these classifications important? Knights were protectors of the land, fighters for the lord, preservers of peace or defenders for their estates. Knights were looked to, to defend and protect their people. Training for a knight began at a young age, about 6 or 7, where a child was sent to a local castle to train in manners, education in armor along with caring for the horses, chivalry and etiquette. During these times the children lived and served for a lord or knight and would attend classes to train them in battle. These children trained until they reached the age of 21, then they could be dubbed a knight. Once a knight reached the appropriate age, there would be a ceremony where the knight would swear an oath to God and to his lord, then he would receive his sword and armor. Armor was given to knight because most people during...
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...drape across my chest till the day I die.”(L. 2509-2510) Sir Gawain keeps the girdle as a reminder that he told a lie, and that this could have damaged his reputation and cost him his life. By admitting his misdeeds he became a better knight, even to The Green Knight “By confessing your failings you are free from fault and have openly paid penance at the point of my axe. I declare you purged, as polished and as pure as the day you were born, without blemish or blame.”(Ll. 2391-2394). Even after he told his tale of his journey and deceit, his peers saw him as a greater knight and Sir Gawain bettered his reputation. To have learned this lesson, the lesson of truthfulness and the consequences of lies, is the greatest gift to have earned. Sir Gawain walked away a better man than he was when he first met The Green Knight. This is what makes Sir Gawain the “finest knight”.
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