Characteristics Of An Ideal Knight In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1523 Words 7 Pages
In my essay I will first sate the traits of an ideal knight and then discuss the characteristics of an ideal knight as represented in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight while comparing and contrasting them to the characteristics of ideal knights in traditional texts. Quoting examples from the text, I will then discuss, analyze and come to a conclusion if Sir Gawain has been represented as an ideal knight in the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
During the Middle Ages and in many Arthurian romances written afterwards, knights were expected to uphold a code of honour known as the ‘Code of Chivalry’. Chivalry served as an epitome of character ideals in knighthood and was defined as an exclusive code of ideas and behavior during Sir
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The pentangle which is a representation of the ideals of knightly chivalry portrays him as a chivalrous knight as these are the virtues that Gawain aspires to live by, Gawain and the Green Knight, sparknotes, Themes and Motifs <> (accessed 3/5/2015). The virtues of friendship, generosity, chastity, courtesy and piety which are represented in the pentangle are also the traits of an ideal …show more content…
Unlike most knights Gawain has good sexual restraint. He remains chaste and does not succumb to the seductions of Sir Bertilak’s wife honouring the virtue of chastity. It is the code of chivalry which he aspires to live by that prevents him from succumbing to the wife’s seductions. Quoting Sir Beritilak’s wife in Fitt 3 of the poem, ‘And ye ar knight comlokest kyd of your elde, Your worde and your worehip walkez ayquere’. Ibid p.86 line 1520. The quote is one of many that speaks of Sir Gawain’s fame, honour and good conduct everywhere. It is through Sir Bertilak’s wife that the poet brings out Gawain’s good virtues as an ideal knight and at the same time destroys it. The temptation theme where the hero is required to undergo a trial of patience and forbearance in preparation of some task that requires special powers in this segment of the poem has a striking similarity to the French romance Le Chevalier a l’Epree. In this story too the sexual restraint of the hero (also called Sir Gawain) is tested. Unlike in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the hero is overcome by the beauty of the maiden and risks an embrace while knowing that an enchanted sword in the room will kill him if he continues his love making. Apart from the wounds inflicted by the sword the hero does not receive a penance. On the contrary he is rewarded immensely for his name and honour which in actuality amounts to nothing as he

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