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Nature Vs Humanity In Sir Gawain

582 words - 2 pages

In "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," the theme of humanity against nature is a central conflict that Gawain faces. Sir Gawain's fear of his inevitable death is portrayed, affirming the weakness and mortality of human beings. Meanwhile, nature is able to constantly regenerate and restore itself, emerging as the superior force. Thus, through Gawain's struggles, the invincibility and the impregnable strength of nature is shown.

        Juxtaposing the forces of nature through the form of the Green Knight, sexual desire, and the fear of death, Gawain becomes the epitome of human frailty. When the Green Knight appears to propose the test, Gawain, like "all"¦household in [Arthur's] hall" (78), "[was] stiller"¦then," (77) and is hesitant to accept. However, Gawain's rightful duty as a Knight compels him to transfer that responsibility upon himself when Arthur accepts this challenge. Although he counters his dread by strict chivalric codes, Gawain's natural fear is aroused before the "largesse and loyalty belonging to knights" (472) come into effect. Gawain, despite his definite training as a knight of valor, succumbs to his natural instinct of fear. Searching for the Green Chapel, Gawain is led to a castle, where he makes a pact with the lord to exchange winnings. He is then tempted by the lady for three days. Overcoming his carnal appetite, Gawain does not indulge in sexual activity, but his sense of morality struggles under his natural fear of death, causing him to accept the green girdle. Accordingly, Gawain's moral innocence is shattered as he violates the code of honor that binds such a contract. While the green knight delivers his blow, Gawain's "shoulders [shrinks away]," (362) further displaying his cowardice that breaks away from chivalric virtues. Gawain's...

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