Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

1438 Words Sep 29th, 2016 6 Pages
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) moral illumination or expertise and of incontrovertible moral authority, which reveals itself inwardly and unavoidably in consciousness (hence the term ‘conscience’) and warns us to do good and avoid evil, and condemns us when we fail” (Lyons 481).
This quote states that a person’s conscience is an unavoidable divine authority which has an expertise in what is considered right and wrong. According to William Lyon, there are even examples of conscience in the Old Testament (Lyons 478-480). Regarding this, one can see which definition is the most appropriate for the poem. To illustrate how a Christian definition of conscience relates to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one must first look to how Gawain prays to God. Gawain prays to God…

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