Honesty In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Good Essays

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight recounts a story about a knight and a quest to test his honor. In the end, it is revealed that the Green Knight is simply testing the extent of Sir Gawain, and Gawain is humbled by his own lack of honesty. The poem is a lesson for those who read it; it urges them not to lie under any circumstances. It isn’t just a cautionary tale, it further propagates a key component of humanity’s moral code: honesty. Honesty is a virtue that has been valued by mankind throughout recorded history.
The moral of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the test of Gawain’s honesty that occurs midway through the text. “Two virtues above all were held to mark the good knight and bring him honor. They were prowess and loyalty,” (Mathew 68). It is Gawain’s loyalty that is put to the test over the course of the poem. Loyalty has a broader definition during the medieval period than it does now; “it implied fidelity to the pledged word,” (69). Sir Gawain spends three nights in a lord’s castle during his quest to fulfill the promise he made to the Green Knight. At the beginning of his stay, the lord requests, “Let us make an agreement: / Whatever I catch in the wood shall become yours, / And whatever mishap comes our way give me in exchange,” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 1105-1107). Sir Gawain agrees to this request and thus gives his word that he will not keep anything he is given from the lord. The first two days pass without incident, with Gawain dutifully giving the

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