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Essay on The Morals of Sir Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Morality is defined by dictionary.com as conformity to the rules of right conduct or virtue in sexual matters. Sir Gawain was chivalrous and moral albeit just a man with human frailties in the lay “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. During the time of Camelot, King Arthur’s knights were “the most noble knights known under Christ”. (Gawain poet 1994) Sir Gawain was counted among these men. He demonstrated piety, a knightly value code, chastity, and his base instinct for self-preservation.
Sir Gawain was a Christian. He observed religious practices as evidenced by the statements, “after Christmas there came the cold cheer of Lent”. “He heard a mass, honored God humbly at the high altar”. (Gawain poet 2003-2005) On the inner part of his shield, the religious image of Mary is portrayed. His faith helps him make the grueling excursion through the wilderness, fighting giants and savage beasts. Nearing the end of his journey to the Green Chapel, he prays again to God and Mary for a refuge so he can attend Christmas mass. “No sooner had Sir Gawain signed himself thrice than he was ware, in the wood, of a wondrous dwelling.” (Gawain poet 2009) During his stay at Bercilak’s castle, he resists the advances of his wife. Of their time together, it is said, “great peril attends that meeting should Mary forget her knight.” (Gawain poet 2029) It is a godly man who has his prayers answered.
Gawain illustrates his valiant belief code by stepping in for his uncle, King Arthur. He refuses to let Arthur participate in the Green Knight’s beheading game. He knew the king was not someone who was expendable. He says to King Arthur, “I beseech, before all here, that this melee may be mine.” “And the loss of my life would be the least of any”. (Gawain p...


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...reen Knight tells Sir Gawain he is really Lord Bercilak. He and his wife played a trick on him at Morgan le Fey’s behest. Gawain keeps the girdle as a reminder of his “faults and the frailty of the flesh preserve, how its tenderness entices the foul taint of sin;” (Gawain poet, 2043)
In the final analysis, Sir Gawain was the finest of knights. Gawain was a deeply pious man and was chaste in his dealings with women. But no man, including Sir Gawain, can out run the innate human desire to stay alive.


Works Cited

"morality." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 12 Jun. 2010. .
Unknown Gawain poet. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Ed. Sarah Lawell; Maynard Mack. Volume B. 2nd Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2002. 1991-2045. Print.


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