Valuing Honor More Than Life: The Green Knight's Challenge To King Aurthur And His Knights

731 words - 3 pages

King Arthur and his knights represent the pinnacle of bravery, chivalry, and honor. However, when a stranger, the Green Knight, enters Camelot with a challenge, none of the knights accept it. The knights should have accepted the challenge for the honor and glory, yet they chose not to for fear of losing their lives. The knights are called do defend the honor of Arthur’s court, yet nobody steps forward. Arthur does his duty as king and agrees to accept the challenge. Sir Gawain, realizing the threat to his king, replaces Arthur in the challenge to save his life. The purpose of the Green Knight’s challenge is to teach Gawain to value his honor more than his life.
One may consider Gawain’s acceptance of the challenge, after Arthur agreed to the challenge, a noble gesture but the king should never have had to step forward. Gawain says, “Though you be tempted thereto, to take it on yourself…I am the weakest, well I know, and of wit feeblest” (350-354). While Gawain appears to be acting humble and willing to sacrifice himself, Gawain should never have let the king be put into that position. Gawain is not making a grand gesture, but he is doing his duty defending the life of his king. Instead, Gawain should accept the challenge for the honor and glory. Furthermore Gawain sarcastically states “While so bold men about upon benches sit” (351). This appears as a complement to his fellow knights, but Gawain is implying that the other knights should have stepped forward. Gawain, alone, accepts the challenge to protect the life of his king when he should accept the challenge before his king did.
When presenting the challenge, the Green Knight clearly states that he and the other contestant will “strike one stroke for another,” that he “shall bide the first blow,” and that he “shall stand him a stroke, steady on this floor” (287, 290, 294). Gawain accepts the terms of the challenge and prepares to deal his blow. The Green Knight stands his ground and does not move while Gawain strikes and removes the Green Knight’s head. The Green Knight honors the challenge, keeps his agreement, and is...

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