Sir Gawain and the Green Knight example

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

True men pay what they owe:

No danger then in sight.

Part IV 2354-2355

These are the words of the Green Knight from the 14th century poem which depicts ideals of chivalry, valor and honesty. At that time chivalric codes were associated with King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. The Green Knight appears in the poem to test who they really with a challenge which can cost one’s life.

Sir Gawain, forget not to go as agreed,

And cease not to seek till me, sir, you find,

As you promised in the presence of these proud knights.

Part I 447-450

The Green Knight is the embodiment of knightly honor and justice which is conveyed throughout the poem.

He takes on a role of a tempter when Sir Gawain arrives in his castle, unaware that his host is the Green Knight. By the Green Knight’s order the alluring wife of his attempts to seduce Sir Gawain. The latter is constrained to balance between being courteous with the lady, keeping his promise to the Green Knight and fighting his own feelings in order not to surrender to the lady. Being an honest man is fundamental to him so he comes out of this affair with honor as the true knight is meant to do.

The Green Knight is driven by justice. In fact he gives Sir Gawain three tasks: to come bravely to the Green Church as promised, to resist temptation of his wife and to give over all gains he receives in the castle. And so he does when he comes to the Green Church. Luckily enough, overcoming all those obstacles guarantees him life. The Green Knight teaches him to rise above his fear as Sir Gawain held back the fact that the lady gave a gift to him:

Yet you lacked, sir, a little in loyalty there,

But the cause was not cunning, nor courtship either,

But that you loved your own life; the less, then, to blame.

Part IV 2366-2368

By doing this the Green Knight grants mercy to Sir Gawain demonstrating his justness and understanding of human nature.

The Green Knight represents the quintessence of honor and nobility. He is a strong believer in heroic ideals of chivalry and is the perfect example of the century’s ethics. His scaring appearance is only a reminder for everyone that justice and parole of honor should be in the first place when it comes to the knights.


Borroff M. (2009). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York: W. W. Norton & …

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