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

Improved Essays
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
…show more content…
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 <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/gawain/themes.html> (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

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Lauren McMillan Professor Kelley World Literature 20 November 2015 Sir Gawain: A Medieval Hero The tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight belongs to the literary genre known as romance. In romance literary pieces, courtly love and chivalry are two idealized standards of behavior. Loyalty, courage, integrity, purity, and courtesy are all attributes of a knight that displays chivalry (Shmoop Editorial Team). Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew and a knight of the Round Table can be seen as an epitome of chivalry. At the beginning of the poem, he is an eager, optimistic, and loyal knight, obeying the “Rules of Courtly Love and Chivalry” as he undertakes the Green Knight’s challenge to protect Arthur and preserve the reputation of Camelot.…

    • 620 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Women could use money, power, and lust to distract men from their ambitions and in most cases, it does succeed. In stories like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, romance doesn’t appear to suffer to the tricks of the enchantress due to the happy ending. The enchantress tries to, “offer him a ring of rich, red gold….but he would not accept it” because he did not want to take advantage of her (Unknown, 174). Gawain stays true to his integrity when she offers him gifts and only took the girdle when concerned for his safety. Gawain learns his lesson and for the time being, everyone stays safe.…

    • 1120 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Othello worships the idea of love: “Perdition catch my soul/ But I do love thee! And when I love thee not,/ Chaos is come again” (3.3.98-100). Nevertheless, he still retains a self-centered attitude: “I will deny thee nothing./ Whereon, I do beseech thee, grant me this,/ To leave me but a little to myself” (3.3.91-3). Othello thinks that his love is flawless and therefore he does not try to nurture the relationship with his wife. He stops trying to understand her when he marries her.…

    • 1200 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Lanval is mistreated by the other knights as well, “some feigned the appearance of love/ who if something unpleasant happened to him,/would not have been at all disturbed.”(line 25-26) Fairness and honesty are two of the chivalric ideals outlined in charlemagne 's and the duke of burgundy 's code of chivalry. It is unfair of Arthur to ignore a brave and generous knight, and his vassals are dishonest about their opinion of Lanval. Chivalry is an exclusive club not a universal moral code. It can be corrupted by heritage, wealth, and envy. When Lanval meets his Lover’s attendants he follows them,”giving no thought to his horse.”() Him leaving his horse behind acts as him symbolically leaving behind his knighthood to join his other worldly lover.…

    • 1058 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    In The Knight’s Tale, the Knight reflects his steadfast personality by describing two knights following the code of behavior. Their courtesy extended from respectable battle tactics to gentle service to ladies. Overall, Chaucer’s glorified description of the Knight tells readers how appreciative he is for the Knight’s pureness. In remembering Marilyn Monroe’s quote, the highest respect Chaucer offers to the Knight is treasured. In medieval times, infamous for the corruptness of society, the Knight’s immaculate nature is remarkable as is his allegiance to God and his people which Chaucer depicts so clearly and eloquently in The Canterbury…

    • 2146 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Metals and pins may tell a story of what a hero or a chivalrous person has endured in order to earn it. Sir Gawain is described with a “shield and coat in view, he bore that emblem bright, as to his word most true, and in speech most courteous knight” (line 636-640). As Gawain heads off to the Green Chapel, he is acknowledged and praised as a…

    • 976 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Notably, when the lady of the castle attempts to seduce Sir Gawain he shows his utmost respect for her by acknowledging he has no women in his life, but will not pursue her. Hence, Sir Gawain unveils a key trait, respecting women, of the knightly Code of Chivalry. By and large, the Code…

    • 1168 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Some argue this love triangle was created as a celebration of love, because to be so in love with someone that you are willing to die for them is a truly beautiful act of commitment, that is the kind of love everyone should strive for a love that defies all reasoning and logic (even though that didn’t get Romeo and Juliet very far). Is this Lancelot the perfect combination of a lover and knight? It will be argued that the exact opposite is true, in turn for loving Guinevere Lancelot perfect knightdom is stripped from him. This is seen though all of the extensive tasks he must perform in order to save her. Lancelots love for Guinevere makes him a much worse knight and deprives him of all sensibility.…

    • 1577 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Battered Women Syndrome

    • 1572 Words
    • 6 Pages

    The victims of Battered Women Syndrome are so extensively manipulated by their abusers that they genuinely believe that they pose no guilt on their partner and for this reason victims with Battered Women Syndrome do not report that the abuse is taking place. “Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace”(Ephesians 4:2-3, New International Version). Patience, love, and humility are important virtues in the sacred vow that is marriage. An absence of these virtues often leads to a destructive relationship between man and wife.…

    • 1572 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Being a very wise man, he warns Romeo that, “These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die; ...Therefore love moderately: long love doth so; too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.” elucidating the dire end that awaits, supposing that Romeo pursues his apparent true love whilst also providing Romeo with decent advice about his hastiness. The Nurse concedes this proposal…

    • 1083 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays