Sir Gawain Essay

Submitted By emont033
Words: 1337
Pages: 6

Introduction Sir Gawain and the green knight, in my opinion, is one of the most influential poems of all time. The conflicts presented by its characters represent the very essence of humanity and give hint to the part religion has had in the shaping of our perception of morality throughout history. The poem begins with a hall in King Arthur’s court full of celebration from Christmas time. While asking for an impressive tale to precede his meal, King Arthur gets challenged by a mysterious knight riding a green horse and displaying a full set of armor covered in the same color. He proposes a game: he will stand his grown as any of the knights delivers a blow with an axe if the promises to stand a year from then; awaiting a blow in return. Sir Gawain steps up to the challenge but fails to kill the green knight, embarking in a journey through a poem which teaches him humility and that all of men are sinners. I believe Sir Gawain did not sin even though he lied to the lord of the castle about his garment; failing to honor the chivalry code followed by all knights.
In order to understand the nature of the argument against sin by Sir Gawain we first need to understand the origin of the action itself. From obedience to guilt, the Christian church has always had shown the path to God to be through penance and sacrifice. This is evident by the content of prayers and some rituals which are described mainly by pleading for forgiveness. If one were to deviate from the teachings of the religion in any way, then this would be considered a sin since the person is failing to show complete loyalty to the way of life demanded by the church. In the High Middle Ages this rigorous set of rules began applying to knights as they undertook part in the Crusades as representatives of God. If we pay close attention to the description of Sir Gawain, we start to understand what the poet wanted to convey in this character. In order to be pure of heart, a knight had to be able to demonstrate discipline and the power to protect others while displaying total honesty. No matter the circumstances, a knight would have to act as the chivalry code dictated. As the poem starts to develop, we can admire Sir Gawain for his courage as he leaves King Arthur’s court to meet the Green Knight; knowing this will be the end of his life. His promise was as strong as he made it that Christmas morning, given by how firmly he began his path towards the green death (Sir Gawain; line 182 Book 2). The point could be made he began with a strong conviction due to being observed by the rest of the court, but I believe this is a testament of his courage. As Sir Gawain looks for the Green Chapel, he stumbles upon a magnificent castle where the lord and the lady which reside there invite him to join them in festivities. While they begin sharing food and wine, the lord proposes a game to him: anything the lord hunts during his stay will be his and anything Sir Gawain gains in the castle will be the lords. Giving his word as a knight, Sir Gawain binds himself in an honor contract to the lord of the castle. As soon as the lord leaves for his first day of hunt, the lady of the castle approaches Sir Gawain in a very seductive manner. While conversating, the interaction between both of them yields a kiss and this is something Sir Gawain mentions to the lord of the castle as he returns from his hunt. For two more days, the lady of the castle returns to Sir Gawain with discussions of romantic poems and seductive allegations (Sir Gawain: line 190 Book 2) and as the first day, their encounters end with a kiss. After the lord of the castle returns once again, Sir Gawain communicates what he has gained, including the kiss from his fair lady. This testifies to the sense of righteousness practiced by Sir Gawain. The fact that he was capable of telling the truth every time the lady of the castle demanded a kiss shows that Sir Gawain is indeed an honorable man and that his desire is not