Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – A Test of Chivalry Essay

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – A Test of Chivalry

Essay with Outline Loyalty, courage, honor, purity, and courtesy are all attributes of a knight that displays chivalry. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is truly a story of the test of these attributes. In order to have a true test of these attributes, there must first be a knight worthy of being tested, meaning that the knight must possess chivalric attributes to begin with. Sir Gawain is self admittedly not the best knight around. He says "I am the weakest, well I know, and of wit feeblest; / and the loss of my life [will] be least of any" (Sir Gawain, l. 354-355). To continue on testing a knight that does not seem worthy certainly will not result in much of a story, or in
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The Green Knight is big and of course he is green, which might explain some of the delay in acceptance of the challenge, but these knights are warriors. The color green is not a frightening enough color, even combined with the Green Knight’s size, to scare a true warrior. The possible reason for the hesitation by the knights could lie in the description of the Green Knight’s eyes. The author points them out in line 304, "and roisterously his red eyes he [rolls] all about" (Sir Gawain). The critic Robert B. White Jr. says that "one need not look far to discover the general symbolic significance of red when it appears in early literature; it [is] generally associated with blood, cruelty, and violence" (224). The Green Knight’s eyes display just how sinister he is and provide the reason that the other knights are hesitant to accept the challenge. Gawain’s willingness to accept definitely sets him apart from the other knights. The author uses this symbol to reveal that Gawain is not only loyal, but also courageous, and worthy to have his attributes put to the test.

The author goes on to reveal yet another very important attribute of the loyal knight, his moral goodness. This is done in the description of the shield that Gawain arms himself with to undertake his journey to the Green Chapel. The shield is adorned "with [a] pentangle portrayed in purest gold" (Sir Gawain, l. 620). This pentangle symbolizes Gawain’s "faith in the five wounds of

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