Sir Gawain And The Green Knight: Trial Of One Knight & # 8217 ; s Chivalric Attributes Essay, Research Paper
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Trial of One Knight & # 8217 ; s Chivalric Attributes
Loyalty, bravery, award, pureness, and courtesy are all properties of a
knight that displays gallantry. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is genuinely a narrative
of the trial of these properties. In order to hold a true trial of these
properties, there must foremost be a knight worthy of being tested, intending that
the knight must possess knightly properties to get down with. Sir Gawain is self
true non the best knight about. He says & # 8220 ; I am the weakest, good I know,
and of wit feeblest ; / and the loss of my life [ will ] be least of any & # 8221 ; ( Sir
Gawain, l. 354-355 ) . To go on on proving a knight that does non look worthy
surely will non ensue in much of a narrative, or in set uping a subject.
Through the usage of symbols, the writer of Sir Gawain is able to demo that Gawain
possesses the necessary properties to do him worthy of being tested. He besides
utilizations symbols throughout the trials of each single property, and in uncovering
where Gawain & # 8217 ; s mistake prevarications. The effectual usage of these symbols enables the
writer to incorporate the trial of each single property into a cardinal subject,
or instead one overall trial, the trial of gallantry.
To set up the knight as worthy, the writer foremost shows Gawain & # 8217 ; s
trueness to his male monarch. The Green Knight challenges anyone in the hall to the
decapitating game and no 1 takes him up on it. Arthur, angered by the Green
Knight & # 8217 ; s twit, is about to accept the challenge himself when Gawain stairss in
stating & # 8220 ; would you allow me this grace & # 8221 ; ( Sir Gawain, l. 343 ) , and takes the ax
from Arthur. This is a really convenient manner for the writer to present Gawain
and besides to demo Gawain & # 8217 ; s trueness to Arthur, but it seems about excessively convenient.
There is an full hall full of knights, why does Gawain entirely step up? Why is
it that a superior knight such as Lancelot does non step up? The Green Knight
is large and of class he is green, which might explicate some of the hold in
credence of the challenge, but these knights are warriors. The colour viridity is
non a terrorization adequate colour, even combined with the Green Knight & # 8217 ; s size, to
frighten a true warrior. The possible ground for the vacillation by the knights
could lie in the description of the Green Knight & # 8217 ; s eyes. The writer points them
out in line 304, & # 8220 ; and roisterously his ruddy eyes he [ axial rotations ] all about & # 8221 ; ( Sir
Gawain ) . The critic Robert B. White Jr. says that & # 8220 ; one need non look far to
discover the general symbolic significance of ruddy when it appears in early
literature ; it [ is ] by and large associated with blood, inhuman treatment, and force & # 8221 ;
( 224 ) . The Green Knight & # 8217 ; s eyes show merely how sinister he is and supply the
ground that the other knights are hesitating to accept the challenge. Gawain & # 8217 ; s
willingness to accept decidedly sets him apart from the other knights. The
writer uses this symbol to uncover that Gawain is non merely loyal, but besides
brave, and worthy to hold his properties put to the trial.
The writer goes on to uncover yet another really of import property of the
loyal knight, his moral goodness. This is done in the description of the shield
that Gawain weaponries himself with to set about his journey to the Green Chapel. The
shield is adorned & # 8220 ; with [ a ] pentacle portrayed in purest gold & # 8221 ; ( Sir Gawain, cubic decimeter.
620 ) . This pentacle symbolizes Gawain & # 8217 ; s & # 8220 ; faith in the five lesions of Jesus
and the five joys of the Virgin [ Mary ] , and his ownership of the five knightly
virtuousnesss. . . & # 8221 ; ( Howard 47 ) . This show of Gawain & # 8217 ; s moral flawlessness, or pureness,
reinforces his worthiness to undergo the trial of his knightly properties.
Honor is another really of import property that a knight must possess.
Gawain has given his word while accepting the decapitation challenge that he will
run into the Green Knight at the Green Chapel in one twelvemonth & # 8217 ; s clip. This journey is
non an easy undertaking by any agencies. The writer tells us & # 8220 ; many a drop must he mount
in state wild ; / far off from all his friends, forlorn must he sit & # 8221 ; ( Sir
Gawain, l. 713-714 ) . This journey is besides taking topographic point in winter and & # 8220 ; near
slain by the sleet [ Gawain ] slumbers in his chainss / more darks than adequate, among
the bare stones & # 8221 ; ( Sir Gawain, l. 729-730 ) . The writer & # 8217 ; s graphic description of
what Gawain must travel through to acquire to the Green Chapel is symbolic in proving
Gawain & # 8217 ; s award. It would be really easy to non seek out the Green Knight and
stay place where he can be warmed by a fire and sheltered from the harsh
environment. Gawain, nevertheless, has given his word and he is bound and determined
to follow through with his terminal of the deal, therefore turn outing that he is so an
Gawain & # 8217 ; s reaching at the palace of Bercilak begins the trial of Gawain & # 8217 ; s
pureness and courtesy, two more really of import knightly attributes, every bit good as
continues the trial of award. Bercilak is traveling runing three yearss in a row
while Gawain remains at the palace and remainders. He makes a trade with Gawain
stating & # 8220 ; whatever I win in the forests I will give you at Eves, / and all you have
earned you must offer to me & # 8221 ; ( Sir Gawain, l. 1106-1107 ) . Gawain accepts and
each twenty-four hours while Bercilak is runing, Gawain is tempted by Bercilak & # 8217 ; s married woman.
Gawain is torn between his pureness ( he must non perpetrate criminal conversation ) , and his
courtesy ( he can non pique a lady by non honouring her petition ) . The writer sets
up a really interesting analogue in his description of each twenty-four hours of Bercilak & # 8217 ; s Hunt
and each twenty-four hours of Gawain & # 8217 ; s enticement by Bercilak & # 8217 ; s married woman. The animate being killed on
each twenty-four hours of the Hunt is symbolic of what happens in the sleeping room between Gawain
and the lady. The animate being hunted on the first twenty-four hours is a cervid which can be
“noble game- wise, politic, tactful, speedy to anticipate his jeopardies
and adroit in avoiding awkward state of affairss. These are exactly the
qualities Sir Gawain shows in the face of his enticement on the first twenty-four hours.
Expecting problem, he pretends to be asleep ; and when he eventually is engaged
by his hostess in conversation, the tone is cheery, delicate, and kiding & # 8221 ;
( Zesmer 157 ) . The 2nd twenty-four hours Bercilak hunts a Sus scrofa, which & # 8220 ; is renowned for
daring and fierceness in struggle. Gawain, like the Sus scrofa, faces his chaser
straight on the 2nd twenty-four hours. He abandons his pretence of slumber and discards his
light tone, preferring to talk more resolutely and to defy more straight & # 8221 ;
( Zesmer 157 ) . The 3rd twenty-four hours the fox is hunted. The fox is an carnal known for
its craft. This craft & # 8220 ; [ bears ] close [ affinity ] with Gawain & # 8217 ; s sly, fear-
divine behaviour of the 3rd twenty-four hours & # 8221 ; ( Zesmer 157 ) . The first two darks Gawain
lives up to his terminal of the trade with Bercilak by snoging him, which is what he
additions in the castle signifier Bercilak & # 8217 ; s married woman. The 3rd dark, nevertheless, Gawain
busss Bercilak but he does non give up everything he earned in the palace that
twenty-four hours. Bercilak & # 8217 ; s married woman has given Gawain a green girdle as a gift for usage in
salvaging his life, and asked that he non allow Bercilak cognize about it. Bercilak & # 8217 ; s
married woman was non able to acquire Gawain to neglect in his trial of pureness or courtesy to her,
for he did non kip with her and he was at all times gracious while avoiding
her progresss. She did, nevertheless, win in puting him up to neglect in his award
and courtesy to Bercilak. Gawain did non uncover that he had received the girdle
and did non give it to Bercilak in maintaining his terminal of the trade. The green
girdle therefore becomes a symbol of Gawain & # 8217 ; s deficiency of award and courtesy.
The green girdle is non merely used as a symbol of Gawain & # 8217 ; s dishonesty to
Bercilak. It is besides symbolic of what Gawain chooses to set his religion in.
Donald R. Howard explains & # 8220 ; Gawain has taken the girdle, so, non to have it for
its value or have on it for its beauty, but merely to salvage his life. It is as
worldly an object, and used for as worldly an terminal as the shield ; but unlike the
shield, it is charming, it is used entirely for a selfish ground. . . . He is
guilty non because he desires [ to salvage his ain life ] but because in order to make
so he uses worldly means in the incorrect manner & # 8221 ; ( 49 ) . The shield that Gawain weaponries
himself with as he sets out on his journey is symbolic of his religion in God ( & # 8221 ; The
five lesions of Christ and the five joys of the Virgin [ Mary ] & # 8221 ; ( Howard 47 )
mentioned antecedently ) . The girdle, which he & # 8220 ; weaponries & # 8221 ; himself with when he leaves
Bercilak & # 8217 ; s castle for the Green Chapel, is & # 8220 ; a convenient symbol for
sophistication & # 8221 ; ( Howard 48 ) . Gawain puts his religion in the girdle, alternatively of God,
to salvage his life. This religion that he placed in a worldly object to save his
life is where Gawain fails the trial of his knightly attributes.
Gawain & # 8217 ; s mistake is non really revealed until he meets the Green Knight
at the Green Chapel. At Gawain & # 8217 ; s reaching to the Green Chapel he hears a noise
& # 8220 ; as one upon a grindstone [ grinds ] a great scythe & # 8221 ; ( Sir Gawain, l. 2202 ) . We
happen out that what is being land is really an ax, but the reference of a
scythe is symbolic in that a scythe is a reaping tool. This can be related
to the crop of the Earth which is mentioned in the Bible. & # 8220 ; So he that was
seated on the cloud swung his reaping hook over the Earth, and the Earth was
harvested & # 8221 ; ( Rev. 14.16 ) , is a transition that occurs merely prior to the Judgment Day.
Judgment is exactly what Gawain undergoes at the Green Chapel with the Green
Knight as the justice. It is this judgement that reveals to us that the trial of
Gawain & # 8217 ; s properties was all the Green Knight & # 8217 ; s strategy. It besides reveals that
Gawain & # 8217 ; s true defect is in his desire for & # 8220 ; self saving, the cardinal,
nonvoluntary sophistication of fallen adult male, through which even the best is easy
tempted & # 8221 ; ( Howard 50 ) .
Gawain is placed in many different state of affairss in which he must
demonstrate that he does, in fact, possess the properties of a worthy knight.
Though Gawain is non unflawed, he does turn out that he is an model knight.
The writer relies to a great extent on the usage of symbols throughout the full work in
demoing merely how model Gawain is. These symbols show that Gawain is in fact
loyal, brave, honest, pure, and gracious, but besides human and, hence,
progressive. The knightly attributes of trueness, bravery, award, pureness, and
courtesy are all constituents of the term gallantry. The writer skilfully puts
the single trials of these attributes together into one cardinal subject, or
overall trial, the trial of gallantry.
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