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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight | Analysis

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The different ideological systems that govern morality in the tale are the knightly chivalry and Christian morality. The two systems competed to a certain extent. For instance, it was sinful for a knight to accept defeat. On the other hand, it was morally upright to promote friendship in the knightly chivalry. The knightly chivalry codes and the Christian morality concepts overlapped since the knightly codes were mainly borrowed from the Christian codes of behavior. The two were even brought together through symbolism, in Gawain’s shield. The virtues of both the chivalry and Christianity upheld friendship, chastity, courtesy, piety, and generosity.

The Christian systems seem to dominate at the end of the tale since Gawain accepts defeat, something that is not supported in the knightly chivalry. The system was dominant since the rest of the knights supported him in his failure while at Arthur’s court. They wore girdles on their arms in support of Gawain, just as he had worn (Armitage). The imagery and themes used in the tale were rather interesting. The games that were earlier played had intense meanings in the end. When the Green Knight was first introduced in the tale, it seemed as though it was a continuation of the feast which was taking place (Armitage). It, however, turned out that the Green knight had come to challenge the others. From the very game which was played, a measure of the character’s personality was also explored. The green girdle was also a confusing use of imagery. It was in the first instance used to represent weakness, but in later times, it seemed to represent strength. At first, it was portrayed as a protective garment bearing magical properties. The person who got to wear it later used it as a representation of his sinful ways and fear for death.

References
Armitage, Simon. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. London: Faber & Faber, 2008. Text.

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