AP English III
28 November 2014
Sir Gawain and the Green Girdle
Its Christmas time at King Arthur’s court, and all the knights and ladies have gathered to celebrate and feast. Just when everyone’s sitting down to eat a giant green knight announces that he’s come to test the honor of the Knights of the Round Table, and proposes a game. Speaking about his axe, the Green Knight says, “Take it and keep it, my gift forever, and give me a well-aimed stroke, and agree to accept another in payment when my turn arrives (Raffel 293-296).” Sir Gawain volunteers himself and brings the axe down on the Green Knight, chopping his head off. The Green Knight picks up his own head, turns it to face the court, and tells Gawain to meet him at the Green Chapel in a year and a day.
The seasons pass, and soon it is time for Gawain to leave King Arthur's court in search of the Green Chapel. Gawain is relieved to see a huge, well-protected castle after journeying for about two months. When he arrives he is warmly welcomed by Lord Bertilak and his lady. After the large feasting, Gawain gets ready to leave, but the lord persuades him to stay three more days. During these three days Gawain and the lord propose a deal for Bertilak must give Gawain whatever he hunts and Gawain must give Bertilak whatever he receives in the castle. On the last
day of his stay, the lady of the house convinces Gawain to accept gift. The gift is a green girdle which she claims will make the wearer unable to be harmed. Gawain realizes that this could save his life during his meeting with the Green Knight. When the lord of the castle comes home at the end of the day, Gawain breaks the rules of the game and doesn't exchange the green girdle.
The next morning, Gawain rides out of the castle with a guide, who points him to the Green Chapel. The Green Knight emerges with his huge axe to strike the blow, but the axe only breaks the skin but doesn't decapitate Gawain. Laughing, the Green Knight explains to Gawain that he is actually Lord Bertilak. He leaves Gawain with only with a scar and the green girdle. When Sir Gawain returns home to King Arthur’s Round Table he brings with him the green silk sash. Everyone in King Arthur’s court believes that Sir Gawain is the best of all the Arthurian knights same expect for Gawain, himself.
Gawain does not believe he is the best because he knows he broke the promise he made to Lord Bertilak and for that he has sinned. He no longer sees himself as the perfect knight. Gawain feels that he has failed to complete the “honesty” part of the five virtues of a knight. “Gawain suffers from the sins of pride, lack of faith, and dishonesty (Henningfeld).” I agree with the Green Knight and the rest of Arthur’s Court that Sir Gawain is the best of all Arthurian Knights. I believe this because instead of just letting his mistake go he took the opportunity to learn from it. He did make a mistake but he is still only human. Everybody makes mistakes even the best of knights. Sir Gawain even resisted the temptation of the beautiful wife of Lord Bertilak three times when most other men would have easily given in. He took the green girdle as a symbol of the sin while staying in the castle of Lord Bertilak.
“ I’ll keep it, gladly, not for its gold, Nor for its lovely silk, nor its polished stones, Not its cost,…