Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written between 1350 and 1400 AD by an anonymous author. In this timeless epic poem, the main character, Sir Gawain, after accepting the challenge of an ominous Green Knight, must travel through Wales to confront him a year later. While on his journey he encounters a castle where he lodges and befriends King Arthur. Throughout this story the author conveys the theme of honesty multiple times.
At the beginning of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green Knight compliments Gawain’s’ honesty saying, “By God, Sir Gawain, I’m glad to have what I wanted at your hands. You’ve spoken our bargain beautifully, and spoken it fair.” This goes to show that the Green Knight, though the antagonist or “bad guy”, still shows Gawain a great deal of respect for his candor. The next example of honesty between our protagonist and his foil occurs in lines 398-403. At this point of the story, Sir Gawain tells the Green Giant that he is an “honest man” and will meet him next New Years as said the deal.
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The Giant in return voices his trust in Gawain, again showing the general sense of respect and honesty the men have for each other. While journeying to the green chapel, Gawair is very aware that he may die, but in determination to keep his word he travels on. Gawain then voices his feelings and present dangers to the host of the castle at which he lodges in line 1059-1067, saying, “for He and I have agreed to meet; Made a solemn exchange of vows, and I am to come there, if I can, By New Years morning, which is almost here… I’d rather be dead than fail.”
Sir Gawain’s total lack of self preservation due only to the fact that he made a “vow” shows that Gawain is truly the honest man he is made out to be. Throughout this poem the theme of honesty prevails. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight respect and trust in each other, although seemingly being opposites, is a refreshing concept not seem often in literature, or rather in life in general. Just think of the world if everyone were as honest as Gawain, and as trusting as the Green Knight.
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