The Concept Of Courtly Love In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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In the Middle Ages, the chivalric code was created to control the violent tendencies of knights who used to fight in wars and establish an ideal model that all knights should follow. At the same time, the concept of Courtly Love was introduced to meet women’s taste in stories and further show knights loyalty and respect for women. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the protagonist Sir Gawain is a righteous knight who tries to fulfill both of these ideal concepts, but ends up failing his quest. His experience reveals that although the Code of Chivalry and the concept of Courtly Love promote positive virtues, including bravery, honesty, and respect for women, in the society, people cannot fully achieve all these ideal standards because of the …show more content…
Before Sir Gawain goes to meet the Green Knight and fulfill his promise, Bertilak’s wife offers him a magical green belt one night and tells him that if he wears this belt, “there is no man on earth who can strike him down, for he cannot be killed by any trick in the world” (line 1853-1854). Thinking this gift can save him from being killed when he meets the Green Knight, Sir Gawain finally decides to accept this gift and hide it from Bertilak, so he can keep it for himself. By doing this, he breaks the Code of Chivalry because of his dishonesty, and he surely realizes that because right after he hides away the gift, he approaches a priest and “[confesses] himself honestly and admitted his sins” (line 1880). Also, near the end of the poem, Sir Gawain even states that he is “false and unworthy and [has] always dreaded treachery and deceit” (line 2382-2383) because he takes the belt from Bertilak’s wife. He fails to hold his integrity because his human nature, the desire for survival, overrides his duty to follow the Code of Chivalry. Although the knights are highly regarded nobilities and are supposed to be the ideal figures in the society, they are humans first. They also have fears and desires; they are also made of flesh and blood. When Sir Gawain knows that the belt can save his life, his instinct certainly tells him that he should keep it. …show more content…
As the protagonist of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain’s failure and flaws convincingly illustrate the gap between the ideal image of a knight and a knight in reality and the unachievable nature of the society’s high standards in the Middle Ages. If the ideal standards are in nature impossible to reach, they may not only be unable to benefit the society, but also lead people to

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