24 November 2014
Courageous, loyal, and brave are all qualities that come to mind when thinking of a knight. Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew, is no exception. It was important that all knight obeyed a code of chivalry that included ideals such as faith, modesty, loyalty, and virtue. Truth, also known as “trawthe” in Middle English meant keeping your word and being faithful to the vows taken at the ceremony of knighthood. King’s would expect their knights to always be honorable, however that was not always the case. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain is a dishonorable knight who did break the code of chivalry.
One instance when Sir Gawain was a dishonorable knight was when he did not immediately stand up to the Green Knight when he challenged the King and appeared scared. As described in the text, “They sat still as stones and there was a heavy silence through the great hall as though they were all asleep” (Ridley 63). Part of Sir Gawain’s oath was to live to serve his King and Country. He broke this rule when he did not immediately defend the King as he was challenged. The Green Knight makes a mockery of King Arthur’s knights and points out that their failure to respond to him proves they are cowards. Also, Sir Gawain flinches when the Green Knight goes to strike him the first time. In the Code of Chivalry it states that thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy. The text states, “But Gawain glanced sideways at the blade as it came swooping down to strike him to the earth, and he could not help his shoulders a little from the keen steel” (Ridley 72). Instead of Sir Gawain stepping up, he allowed his King to be subjected to taunting from the Green Knight and standing brave when attacked shows that Gawain is dishonorable.
Another instance where Sir Gawain proves that he is a dishonorable knight is with his interactions with the married woman. Sir Gawain accepts a kiss from his host’s wife. “On the first day the lord and his men hunt and kill many swift deer. In the meantime, Gawain, approached in the bed by his lady, reluctantly accepts a single kiss from her” (Ridley 66). This is unacceptable behavior of one of King Arthur’s knights and breaks the code that thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is in engaged in. Sir Gawain was well aware that this woman was married and kissing her was dishonorable. Also, he was turned on by the married woman coming into his room at night, “ And when he saw her so lovely and so gailyn arrayed, with her flawless beauty and her sweet color, joy welled up and warmed his heart” (Ridley 67). Another part of the code of chivalry is to exhibit self control. Knowingly kissing a married woman and wanting her to come onto him proves that King Gawain is a dishonorable knight.
Lastly, Sir Gawain did not exhibit courage in word and deed and lied to his fellow man, all…