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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


Gawain is the major character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He was described to be a great young knight who, after facing the Green Knight’s challenge, set off in search of the Green Chapel to uphold the virtue of knighthood: chivalry and honor. In his search of the Green Chapel, he passed by Lord and Lady Bertilak’s castle, where he was further tested for chivalry and honor.
As one of King Arthur’s knights, he was a symbol of honor and chivalry. He was supposed to uphold the values of knighthood, and protect these values. When he set off to find the Green Chapel, he was protecting his honor and promise to an agreement he made with the Green Knight. Despite the fact that he may face death, he readily went off in search of the Green Chapel to face the Green Knight. This indicated his intention to be a knight whatever the outcome may be. This was further tested, however, when he met Lady Bertilak.
During his stay in the castle, he was faced with another test, to uphold his promise with his host, Lord Bertilak, and his hostess, Lady Bertilak. For the first two advances of the Lady, he was able to dodge it, with only one and two kisses respectively, returning it to his host. With the Lady’s third attempt, Sir Gawain was forced to accept a gift, the girdle. In his mind, he was upholding his knighthood value of accepting a gift from a damsel, though he was unable to uphold his honor with the Lord as he kept the girdle. Keeping the girdle was a sign that Sir Gawain was a mere human, he was in fear of death. That is why it was termed “for his own good…he twined him about.” This indicated that Sir Gawain, though a brave and chivalrous knight, still fears facing death. This shows how idealistic and conflicting the values of the knighthood are. No matter how honorable a knight may be, they are still bound to human desires and emotions, which may weaken their spiritual strength.

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