Sir Gawain First Quality

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In Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, the character Sir Gawain is brought to life by The Gawain Poet. Sir Gawain undergoes a challenge to test his qualities of knighthood. Along the way, he passes three major tests. In order to prove himself as the ideal knight, much of these actions revolves around honesty, noble and bravery, yet Sir Gawain journey leads him to a new discovery of what the meaning of responsibilities for a knight.

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To begin, Sir Gawain first quality trait was shown when the Green Knight appears at the New Year’s celebration challenging the court to a beheading game, the knights must cut off the Green Knight’s head leading to 12 months and a day later to find the Green Knight and allow the Green Knight to chop whomsoever head off. King Arthur yet accepts the challenge because none of the Knights at the round-table appears to speak. But Gawain yet interrupts and offers a suggestion Let this game be mine (sir gawain ln 119).

As Gawain is making this suggestion it shows that he is willing to take up a challenge that no other knights would have, resulting to be seen as the bravest of all knights. Sir Gawain perceives himself as just any other night because he is King Arthur’s nephew, but Gawain wants to prove to himself that he is so much more by accepting this challenge. Gawain appears as he is unafraid of facing his own destiny. Continuing on Sir Gawain gives his statement to why he wishes the challenge for himself I myself am the weakest, of course, and in wit the most feeble; My life would be least missed (Sir Gawain ln 131-132). Sir Gawain’s statement shows he does not think highly of himself and he feels he is the least important of the knights.

He is willing to offer his life for his king revealing the honor he holds for King Arthur. Gawain would never have accepted to let his king take such a challenge, even if the other knights show their cowardice. With Sir Gawain accepting this challenge, knowing what it could result to along with risking his life and following through his promise leads back to him being the most noble of all.

During Gawain’s quest he encounters the lord, whom welcomes him to stay for a few days. The lord proposes whatever he hunts and brings home will be an exchange for what Gawain receives from staying at the castle. Gawain of course keeps his promises and returns the kisses he received to the lord, he has been truthful and giving the lord all he has received. Gawain then is offered a ring by the lady, Gawain couldn’t accept the ring. And therefore I pray you, do not be displeased, but give up, for I cannot grant it however fair or right. (Sir Gawain ln 212-213). He is refusing this ring because Gawain swore on his knighthood that he could take nothing. With Gawain keeping his words this is displaying an honorable deed. He feels as if it is wrong to receive something but give nothing back in return showing how high his morals are.

The lady soon offers another gift that is very beneficial to Sir Gawain. A gift that protects him from anyone who wishes to harm him, it was a stash and the lady began to explain No man under heaven can hurt him, whoever may try, for nothing on earth, however uncanny, can kill him (Sir Gawain ln 226). This statement leads to Sir Gawain knowing if this gift meant remaining alive, it might well be worth it to him. Sir Gawain continues to listen but he realizes that although the sash could save his life, taking it would require him to betray the lord by keeping the gift a secret but also using the gift would mean trusting in magic for help instead of depending upon his own strength and virtue. But knowing this was a reassurance that he would live Gawain’s accepts the gift. Gawain shows loyalty to the lady by keeping this gift a secret however when the lord returns Gawain does not reveal the stash to him, breaking their agreement. As the Gawain Poet displays that sir gawain is perhaps not all he appears to be.

New Years arrives, the day where it was King Arthur’s turn to strike at Gawain’s neck. Arthur then taunts him with two strikes but yet stops and it angers Sir Gawain, he orders for Arthur to just strike him and to stop being such a coward. The third and final strike wounds Sir Gawain neck. The stash of course does not seem to behave as Gawain had wanted to because he was bleeding from his neck. The Green Knight then explains to him that this was all a test for his honesty and loyalty. He had past the first two days with the lord but on the third day he had failed by accepting the stash.

Arthur then states You were less than loyal; But since it was not for the stash it self or for lust but because you loved your life, i blame you less (Sir Gawain ln 345). King Arthur knows that Gawain was not a bad person and for Gawain accepting this stash only meant he loved his life. Any normal person, no matter how honest and would do what he has done for fear of his life. After hearing this Sir Gawain felt such shame to break the Knights trust. He feels miserable for what he has done and calls himself a coward. Gawain continues to say I can’t deny my guilt; My works shine none to fair! Give me your good will and henceforth I’ll beware. (Sir Gawain ln 361-365). Seeing that Gawain is admitting to his fault and also accepting any consequences that is to come, shows the honesty he holds. What a good knight consist of is honesty and he is able to admit his fault and not hide from it. Yet that is not how Sir Gawain thinks of himself even though he paid his fault by admitting it and offering his head to the ax. The Green Knight then commends him for his honesty and accepts his apology.

Throughout the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight we see Gawain’s personality from his own words and actions. Along with the mistakes that Sir Gawain has made it shows him that he is human just like everyone else, and with the mistakes it shows he could be a better knight. Not all Knights are perfect, they all make mistakes but they also learn from it. In the end Sir Gawain remains honest, noble and brave.

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Sir Gawain First Quality. (2019, Jul 24). Retrieved December 10, 2022 , from

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