Sir Gawain Code Of Chivalry Analysis

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When one thinks of chivalry, an image of a valiant knight in armor appears in their head. However, in reality, the code of chivalry was a strict set of rules and guidelines that knights had to live by and was often impractical and difficult to uphold. In the chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl Poet, Gawain undergoes a series of challenges that test his adherence to chivalry. In addition, the poem illustrates the rift between the code and human nature instinct. These instances provide examples of the impracticality of the medieval code of chivalry. The first instance where the Pearl Poet shows the differing expectations of chivalry and human nature is when Gawain steps in for his king and takes his place in the …show more content…
When Gawain accepts the challenge, he is living up to the expectation that one must “live to defend Crown and Country and all it holds dear.” Knowing that he may die, Gawain signs up for the fight against the Green Knight, and sacrifices himself for his country in King Arthur’s place. By doing so, Gawain is being an honorable knight and following the code of chivalry in the highest regard. Also, once Gawain undertakes this quest, he is expected to follow through, and is held accountable since he has “sworn in the hearing of these knights,” (2.450) as quoted by the Green Knight. Now that he has publicly accepted and committed, there is no backing out. If he were to back out, he would be showing fear, therefore violating the code of chivalry. Not only are knights expected to put their king and country before themselves, but they are held to the expectation that once they commit to something, fatal as it may be, they are expected to follow through. Furthermore, Gawain is supposedly eager for his rendezvous with the knight, and would face him “more gladly, by God’s son, than …show more content…
This is evident when Gawain accepts the girdle and fails to mention it to the host. When Gawain accepts the girdle, he does so because he wants to save himself. He knows that there is little to no hope in defeating the Green Knight on his own, so he accepts the offering from the Temptress with the slight optimism that it may be able to save him. Later, he chastises himself for “the cowardice and covetousness that seized [him] there;” (4.72508). Natural human instinct would be to protect oneself above all, not thinking about what the consequences may be. By doing so, one could be considered selfish and dishonest for wanting to protect themselves, therefore going against the code of chivalry. Because Gawain is bound to chivalry and measures himself up to the chivalric values, he believes that he has sinned by wanting to save himself, and not confessing his possession of the girdle to the

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