Sir Gawain Essay
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain continuously proves his knightly virtues and code of honor. Chivalry includes bravery, honor, and courtesy. He proves that he is in fact a ‘real’; Knight. He shows his bravery by shying away from nothing and no one. He proves his honor and courtesy to everyone he meets by showing respect to all whether he receives it back or not.
Sir Gawain shows his bravery the first moment he has the chance to, when the Green Knight enters King Arthur’s Court. The Green Knight taunts with ‘Anyone with the nerve to try it, take this ax, here. Hurry, I’m waiting! Take it and keep it, my gift forever, And give me a well-aimed stroke, and agree to accept another in payment, when my turn arrives.’; (I, 292) Sir Gawain took this burden and took the ax from the king who was prepared to do this deed. Gawain knows full well that he would receive a blow in return and would have to find the Green Knight in order to receive his blow. He accepts these terms and gives the Green Knight his blow with no haste. Time passes and it eventually is time for Sir Gawain to start to look for his fate and find the Green Knight and his chapel. Starting his crusade, Gawain was given a feast and many thought he would never return again, as some of the knights would comment, ‘Better to have been more prudent, to have made him a duke before this could happen. He seemed a brilliant leader, and could have been.’; (II, 677) Gawain knows all of this that on his travel he would be put to death, he still went on this final crusade, to his death with utmost bravery.
Sir Gawain also shows his honor often. In accepting the Green Knight’s challenge he shows his honor to the whole court. Now, set on his crusade Gawain was to prove his honor to the Green Knight. Though many adversities he faced, he still went on ‘In God: he could have died a dozen times over’; (II, 725) All to fulfill his promise to the Green Knight. His honor and faith would lead him to a castle of splendorous qualities in an unknown wood. Gawain courteously asks for shelter and tells the castle’s court of his crusade. The king of this court says that he knew of the Green Knight and his chapel and told Gawain it was very close. Gawain pleased, made merry with the king. The king liked him very much and made an agreement with Gawain. Gawain would prove his honor to this agreement that the king proposed, ‘ Whatever I earn in the woods will be yours, whatever you win in exchange will be mine.’; (II, 1106) While in the castle Gawain would receive kisses from the lady of the castle, the king’s wife an in loyalty and honor to the king and the agreement he would give the king his kisses that he received in exchange.
Sir Gawain is very courteous in all he does especially while in the company of the king. He is tempted daily by the king’s wife. The lady would be aggressive for Gawain’s love yet still giving all control of the situation to Gawain for him to make the mistakes. The lady flirtatiously says, ‘ You’re far too strong to accept a ‘no’- if anyone were boorish enough to deny you.’; (III, 1496) Gawain shakes off the ladies temptations yet still gives her everything she asks for in a courteous polite manner. ‘And Gawain was so gracefully evasive that he seemed always polite, and nothing happened but happiness.’; (III, 1551)
Everyday, when the king would come home Gawain would exchange what he received, kisses, for the king’s earnings of his daily hunt. Everyday the king would be proud because the king knew of what his lady was doing to Gawain while he was away; it was all a test. Gawain passing it marvelously with his chivalric acts.
Gawain is tested throughout the story on his chivalric qualities. Everytime passing without any trouble. He proves his honor to King Arthur, the court, and the Green Knight throughout the story. All the while being brave and courteous. Gawain is a true knight because he is human and he makes mistakes, but he doesn’t deny these mistakes. He acknowledges them and learns from them. All the time chivalric, as almost a natural quality, not learned or taught, but natural. His honor is unmatched in the story, his bravery unsurmounted and his courtesy like no other.