The Role of Nobility in Sir Thomas Malory’s "Tale of Sir Gareth"

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The value of nobility in the middle ages can hardly be questioned. The majority of nobles lived a life of luxury, having riches beyond the wildest dreams of commoners. When one thinks of medieval knights, nobility is often comes to mind, but did knights have to be members of the noble class? Sir Thomas Malory’s “The Tale of Sir Gareth” examines this question and presents an interesting view as to the true value of a knight. Malory uses the actions of important characters to reveal his opinion that the nobility of a knight was secondary to his integrity, courage, and benevolence. Many characters in Malory’s world view nobility as an absolute must and even a synonym for being a knight. Sir Kay is a telling example of this. In the…show more content…
After Sir Gareth leaves Lady Lyoness, disappointed that his prize has rejected him for a year, she sends her brother Sir Gryngamour to retrieve Beaumains’ dwarf in order to question it of Beaumains’ true name. Once she learns of Sir Gareth’s nobility she concludes she can love him (Malory 156). Sir Gareth’s attempt to regain his dwarf reveals another aspect of his knighthood, his masculinity, as he threatens Sir Gryngamour if the dwarf isn’t safely returned to him (Huber 52). While there are no doubts that Lyoness is an important character, one has to wonder about the importance Malory places on her views. Asking Sir Gareth to prove himself for a year winning more fame was an absurd proposition, especially considering his impressive victory through the Passage Perelous and defeat of the Red Knight. Her actions prove her to be somewhat dimwitted. Malory uses Lyoness to further expose the lack of value of nobility in a knight. Another minor character, the dwarf, reveals other attributes of knighthood. When the dwarf is stolen by Sir Gryngamour, Sir Gareth is given the opportunity to show off his masculinity, as he challenges Sir Gryngamour to a fight to win the dwarf back (Huber 52). The dwarf also gains fame for Sir Gareth when he removes the ring that disguises Sir Gareth (Huber 53). After

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