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Chivalric Romance In Sir Gawin And The Green Knight

854 words - 4 pages

What does a Chivalric Romance really represent? In “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight,” Sir Gawain continuously proves his knightly virtues and code of honor. Chivalry includes bravery, honor and humanity. He proves that he is in fact a “real” knight. It shows many ways that “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” are perfect and the emphasis on the importance of the chivalric code.
Despite its divine origins, the chivalric code is ultimately a human ideal. Chivalry is not a trait naturally found in man, but rather a concept constructed by humanity in its pursuit for Christ-like perfection. It has even been suggested that chivalry is at odds with the nature of man. Despite the weakness of his human nature, however, Sir Gawain is expected to maintain the chivalric code, and he must depend on his faith in God in order to do so. In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the chivalric code - or rather, the human ability to abide by it - is challenged by nature in a number of different ways.
The challenges that nature presents to the chivalric code are characterized by the Green Knight. The insignificance of the code is revealed in the reactions of the people of the court to the Green Knight's challenge. His proposition reduces "the noblest knights known under Christ” (Part 1) “to cowering, quaking men.”(Part 1)
In spite how the court reacted to the Green Knight's challenge, Arthur still insists, "No guest here is aghast of your great words" (Part 1). By verbally accepting the Green Knight's challenge, Sir Gawain supports Arthur's playful - if not outright dishonest - words, thereby managing to maintain the integrity of King Arthur's court. He also unknowingly passes his first and most obvious test.
It is in the castle that Sir Gawain's ability to maintain the code of chivalry is challenged by human nature, in the form of sexual desire. Sir Gawain, in respect to the chivalric code, may not sleep with his host's wife even in light of her willingness and his obvious physical attraction to her. It is a test of Sir Gawain's sheer will that he is able to deny his nature in the spirit of chivalry. However, here the insignificance of the code is once again hinted at, for this challenge reveals a contradiction: it is rude of Sir Gawain to decline a lady's wish, yet it is not proper for him to yield to her desires.
Although Sir Gawain does grant her request for a kiss, he still manages to uphold his...

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