Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1466 words - 6 pages

In the Pearl poet’s Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, an epic talk emerges to reveal a man’s journey of honesty, morals, and honor. Sir Gawain accepts a challenge in place of his uncle King Arthur, with hidden tests and viable consequences. As Gawain begins his journey, he proudly upholds his knightly honor and seeks out his own death; however, Gawain gives into his human emotion and is soon distracted from his chivalrous motives. As a result of this distraction, Gawain is marked with a scar to show his dishonest and cowardly deception. This scar is a visible reminder to Sir Gawain that honor and prestige cannot always protect against the desires of the flesh. Gawain pays for his sins at the Green Knights axe (Stone 136). This sin tarnishes his honor and causes Gawain to face the rest of his life as a witness to human frailty.
To begin with, Sir Gawain enters the castle seeking refuge. There he makes the deal with the King which invokes his knightly honor, obligating him to fulfill the pact. During his first hunt, the King seeks doe, while, his wife stalks Gawain in the same manner. Both the doe and Gawain attempt to flee from the potential danger that exists. However, just as the one arrow captures the doe, Gawain is caught with one kiss. The doe, being the easiest of the three animals to kill but quick on its feet to flee from danger as was Gawain at the Lady’s attempts. Gawain must first find a way to discourage the Lady without offending her, which proves to be difficult (Putter 118). Gawain must not cause the Lady to become upset because the king might become angry and then pass this aggression on to her husband. In his approach to turning her away, “Gawain first gives a gently dismissive smile, and next utters a not-today-thank-you” (Putter 118).
Moreover, after Sir Gawain’s first encounter with the King’s wife, he becomes more susceptible to her seductions. On the King’s second hunt, he seeks larger and more difficult game, causing this hunt to be more dangerous. As the King seeks the boar, his wife once again seeks Gawain. Being as equally resistant as the boar, Sir Gawain begins a dialog in order to distract the King’s wife and narrowly escapes with two kisses. The boar was more resilient and required the king to try harder to kill it, again as the Lady had to try harder to capture the honorable knight. Gawain uses his love talk to avoid her seductions and maintain his honor.
"And seeing how beautiful she was,
And how dressed, and her face, and her body, and her flesh,
So white, joy swelled in his heart.
With gentle smiles they started to talk,
And their talk was of joyful things, they spoke only
Of bliss.
Words came flowing free,
Each was pleased
With the other; and only Mary
Could Save him from this.
That beautiful princess pressed him so hard,
Urged him so near the limit, he needed
Either to take her love or boorishly
Turn her away. To offend like a boor
Was bad enough; to fall into sin
...

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