Free Essays - Courage and Honesty in Sir Gawain and Green Knight


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Courage and Honesty in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  

"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is a poem written by a poet (name unknown) approximately 6000 years ago in the late 1300's in the medieval times. This story was originally written in medieval literature with a real unique rhyme scheme, but was translated later in time to regular English for high school students and researchers to study and read.

The story begins during the New Year's feast in King Arthur's court. Then a green knight enters asking all of the knights in the court if they would like to play a game. The game is he will allow which ever knight that chooses to challenge him one swing with a battle ax to try and chop off his head, but in order to play the game, the accepting knight must meet the green knight one year later at the green chapel. The brave knight Sir Gawain accepts to the challenge of the green knight. Sir Gawain takes one swing and chops off the head of the green knight. Right after the green knight's head is chopped off he gets up immediately, picks up his head and leaves. Once a year passes, Gawain sets off on a journey to find the Green Chapel. He arrives at a castle in which a lord welcomes him to stay for several days (Gawain only needs to stay there for three). The next morning the lord makes an agreement to share everything he gets during these three days with Gawain, but Gawain must agree to do the same. During days one and two the lord's wife tries hitting on Gawain, but he only allows her to give him a few kisses. At these days Gawain shares what he got to the lord for what he has hunted those days. On the third day, Gawain finally accepts to take a magic girdle from the lord's wife, but he didn't share it with the lord. This magic girdle helped Gawain survive the three fatal swing's of the green giant's ax, only leaving him with a little nick. After Gawain survives these 3 swings at his neck, the green knight then reveals his identity and explains that he is Bercilak, the lord of the castle. He also said that the three blows were taken at him in regards to the three days of their agreement.

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The first two days he stayed truthful and shared what he received (this resembles the two swings taken that were misses). On the third day when he received the magic girdle, in which he should of returned to the lord, is why he received the little nick on his neck. Afterwards the lord asked Gawain to come back to the castle to celebrate, but Gawain said I must return at once to Arthur's court.

Throughout this whole poem there are quit a number of knightly virtues that Sir Gawain demonstrates such as bravery, courage, courtesy, and honesty. The first knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is bravery. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates bravery is when the green knight says to Gawain (pg.81, line-2274) Did I flinch, or flee from you when your blow felled me? (pg.81, lines-2280 & 2281) Gawain replied: Enough! I won't flinch when you hack! This shows bravery, because the second time the green knight swung to chop off his head (another miss) Gawain didn't flinch a bit. Even though Gawain knew he wasn't going to be picking up his head, it still took a lot of bravery to just stand there and remain still while you got this big green knight getting ready to swing at you with a battle ax. The second knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is courage. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates courage is when the lord leaves him and is telling Gawain that the knight of the Green Chapel is fierce and deadly, and that he kills every man he meets. He also tells Gawain that he will swear not to say a word about what happened, Gawain thanks him and tells him that he must be brave and continue on with his quest. As the lord is leaving Gawain, (pg.71, line- 2156) Gawain says I'll neither groan nor weep. This shows courage in Gawain, because after all of these things that the lord was telling him, he put it all aside and built up the courage to continue on his quest and face the green knight. Another demonstration of courage is when Gawain faces the green knight in the beginning of the story also. The third knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is courtesy. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates courtesy is after the lady giving Gawain the gift, she starts preying on his desire and knightly obligation to be polite and courteous. (pg.63, line-1771 to 1773) Urgently, spurring him to the brink, and he thinks: 'I must accept her affection, or refuse, and offend her', concerned with courtesy, less he be thought a boor. This shows him having courtesy by him not wanting to stop her in the middle of prey over him. Gawain knew he was doing something wrong by accepting this gift in which he had no intentions to share with the lord. Even though he sinned, he wasn't going to stop her from preying and offend her. The last and final knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is honesty. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates honesty is by when the lord and himself make the three day agreement. The first two days he was honest and shared what he got. On the third day while the lord was hunting his wife gives Gawain this magic girdle that she tells him it will save him from the green knight. Gawain takes it and doesn't share what was rightfully the lords. (Pg.84, lines-2358 to 2363) For that woven garment you wear is my own girdle. My wife wove it, *so I know it well. I have missed no facts concerning your acts and kisses, Nor my wife's wooing of you; I brought it all about. I sent her to test you. You withstood her stoutly. You're the most faultless solider who walks on foot! This is explaining how the lord set up this trap for Gawain to fall into. This was to test his honesty and see if he would share this magic girdle that would save his life. Gawain was to the point were he wasn't looking to be honest with the lord and give him back the girdle. He knew if would of given up the girdle the green knight would of killed him.


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