A Critical Look at Sir Gawain and the Green Knight From the first time I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight I have been troubled by the question of whether Sir Gawain was right or wrong in lying in order to keep the girdle and save his life. He was torn between the preciousness of his own life, and the sanctity of chivalry and its codes. He was forced to ask himself what he valued more: his reputation or his life? Many scholars have struggled with this question for centuries, as well as the questions of how guilty he really felt for his actions, and what the poet is trying to tell the reader through Gawain's ordeal. There is another side to the question about Sir Gawain's decision to use the green girdle. While honesty should be highly valued, it may be unwise to undervalue life itself. In almost every culture, as well as Sir Gawain’s, death is recognized "as a terrifying thing which men and animals alike try to escape by every device in their power, regardless of dignity or duty" (Burrow, "The Third Fit" 37). It may be even more difficult to place an overriding significance on the value of honesty in light of life's alternative. "...images of death permeate the medieval world" (Clein, 55). A modern reader of Sir Gawa
Art and Tradition in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight". Once a knight can do this he has fulfilled the warrior code of a knight, at least for the moment. Hills explores why Gawain was correct to accuse himself of covetousness, why Gawains' response was proper, and how the poet's use of "covetousness" functions to clarify and emphasize rather than confuse. While it might be easy to say that Gawain just went crazy at the end of the poem, this only opens up a whole new set of questions. For Gawain recognizes that in the fourteenth century world that he took the first step, which is not insignificant in theological terms, on that long path to hell. in and the Green Knight should gain an understanding of what death meant within the cultural milieu, which surrounded the Gawain writer. Concepts of Chivalry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In still another sense, it can mean some inclination of a corrupt nature to excessively desire corruptible goods. These temporal glories are replaced by spiritual rewards that are enjoyed by the saints. Rather that cowardice is the root of Gawain's failure. There is a certain cycle to the human condition that brings relevance to the story of Gawain. However, the Christian doctrine demands that the knight surrender worldly fame and accept death as a "passage from this imperfect world to eternity" (55). covetousness can be variously understood.
Some topics in this essay:
Black Prince, Romance Arthur, Wendy Clein, Summa Theologiae, Sir Gawains, England Clein, Sir Gawain, Round Table, Middle Ages,
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