Definition Of Conscience In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage, there are multiple dilemmas presented to the reader, one being a matter of conscience. According to William Lyons’s Conscience—An Essay in Moral Psychology, there are three different definitions of conscience: a Christian definition, a Freudian definition, and a personal integrity definition. Throughout the poem, there is strong evidence to support that the Christian definition of conscience is being used. To begin to analyze which definition is the most appropriate for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one needs an understanding of the Christian definition of conscience. William Lyons suggests
Conscience is an inner voice of special (because divine and so morally infallible)
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Once Gawain finds shelter at a lord’s castle and recovers from his journey, he is subjected to a wager by the lord of the castle. The lord castle’s wager is that whatever he kills on his hunt is Gawain’s, and that whatever Gawain gains while the lord of the castle is out hunting is his. This wager ends up being the lord of the castle’s test of Gawain’s morals. The test lasts for three days. Gawain passes the test the first two days, and the lord of the castle says, “I have tested you twice and found you truthful” (1679). However, on the third day, Gawain is presented a girdle that can save his life, and he does not give it to the lord of the castle, therefore failing the third part of the test. Gawain did not follow his conscience. Immediately after attaining the girdle, he goes to confession: “Then he went at once to the chapel of warship, / privately approached the priest and implored him / to allow his confession, and to lead him in life / so his soul might be saved when he goes to the grave” (1875-1879). Gawain knows he did not do the right thing, and a Christian definition of conscience says that when a person fails they are condemned (Lyons 481). Going to confession in the Catholic religion is a process that one goes through to cleanse themselves of their sins. If Gawain went to confession, that means he was trying to …show more content…
Facing and resisting temptation are very difficult things to do because both are an internal struggle. Generally, a temptation is something that is not good or the right thing to do. When a person goes through this struggle, they face their conscience. In a Christian definition of conscience, the inner voice tells people what is good and how to avoid the bad. This inner voice is the divine authority that is always right. When someone goes against this inner voice they are condemned according to the Christian definition of conscience. This relates to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight because, throughout the poem, Gawain faces many temptations especially when he is at the lord’s castle. He resists the lord of the castle’s wife, and he also resists quitting his quest multiple times. The only time he failed to resist temptation was when he was trying to save his own life which is understandable because humans are selfish and seek to protect themselves. This selfishness impacts a person’s ability to resist temptation and listen to their conscience. Overall, resisting temptation is a very difficult aspect of life that one’s conscience helps to make the right decision. One reason that the Christian definition of conscience is the most appropriate choice out of the three options for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is that the Freudian definition is not supported in the poem. The

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