close
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Review of The Gawain Character in "Sir Gawain and The Green Knight"

downloadDownload printPrint

Remember! This is just a sample.

You can get your custom paper by one of our expert writers.

Get custom essay

121 writers online

Review of The Gawain Character in "Sir Gawain and The Green Knight" essay
Download PDF

“On Sir Gawain that girdle of green appeared fine!

It looked rich on that red cloth, and rightly adorned.”

-Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Lines 2036-2037

In the poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain’s acceptance of the green girdle shows his hidden character of self-absorption and fear of mortality. Gawain’s real character is not represented by his pentangle, but rather by the green girdle. Gawain goes against his chivalric and Christian standards of honesty, courage and faith, and allows his animalistic instincts for survival to dictate his behavior.

Gawain acts upon his animalistic instincts when he accepts the green girdle from his seducer as a supposed “love token.” In reality, he is only concerned with the girdle’s special powers and its ability to possibly save his life. Gawain outwardly refuses to accept such a gift when he is first presented with the lady’s girdle. It is only after the lady explains that the seemingly simple piece of silk is actually a “prize” that is “praiseworthy, precious, and fine,” (1850) that Gawain consents to keeping the gift. Gawain constantly dwells on his fate: “In the deepest of dreams, Gawain drowsily spoke– / As a man who’s in mourning, with many sad thoughts– / Of the day that his destiny deigned that he must / At the Green Chapel greet the fierce Green Knight?” (1750-1753). In his dream, Gawain’s subconscious, true and innermost thoughts are revealed. It is only out of Gawain’s concern for survival that he accepts the gift, not out of his love for his seducer or out of his remembrance of her. He fails to demonstrate his courage when he accepts the girdle in an effort to save himself from harm. When faced with the reality of his decapitation, Gawain’s survival instincts take over his façade of courage and piety, represented by his pentangle symbol. His desire to circumvent his certain death leads him to accept the girdle and to knowingly violate the Exchange of Winnings agreement with his lord to trade all his “wins” of the day. Gawain’s total disregard to honor his agreement violates honesty, part of the code of chivalry.

By accepting the lady’s girdle, Gawain places greater value on his own survival than on his chivalric values. He says, “He was sorely concerned should his chivalry fail, / But he feared more his fate if he falsely should sin” (1773-1774). The pentangle symbol on his shield represents the high qualities and standards Gawain strives to embody. Instead of being guided by an internal strength of character and honor to commitment, Gawain takes the cowardly course and places his faith in the magical power of an inanimate object to save himself from harm. As a member of King Arthur’s Round Table, Gawain is supposed to exemplify the highest qualities of chivalry, which include bravery and honesty. When he chooses to accept the girdle, Gawain demonstrates his cowardice and his lack of chivalrous character. Gawain faces a difficult decision: he can either give into temptation and commit a sin or refuse the lady and violate his chivalric courtesy. He chooses to violate the code of chivalry and puts more importance on his life.

The actual placement of the girdle and the pentangle, drawn on his shield, is most revealing of Gawain’s character. While the shield is boldly placed in front of his chest and is easily visible, Gawain places the green girdle on his waist, a less noticeable part of the body. It is important to notice that Gawain chooses to place the girdle “about his smooth hips” (2032) and not across his chest. At the end of the poem, The King and the rest of the court decided to wear a girdle similar to Gawain’s; but instead of wearing the girdles around their waists, they wear the piece of cloth as it were a sash: “Even lady and lord who belonged to the Table– / That a baldric be borned by the brothergood’s men, A silk band wrapped about of bright, glowing green” (2515-2517). In the Oxford English dictionary, a “baldric” is worn from one shoulder across the breast and under the opposite arm. Compared to the people in King Arthur’s Court, Gawain choose to wear the girdle on a less noticeable part of the body. Gawain appears to be virtuous and chivalric, as represented by his shield, but his true, hidden character is less noticeable and obvious, like the girdle. There is also a stark contrast between the colors of the two objects; the girdle is green whereas the pentangle is gold. The green color represents something sinister and wicked, while the gold color suggests something holy and precious. The quotation contrasts the symbolism behind the pentangle and the girdle. Gawain’s weak character, symbolized by his keeping of the girdle, falls short of the high virtues of chivalry, represented by the pentangle.

It is easy for Gawain to claim chivalry by wearing the pentangle symbol for all to see, but it is far more difficult for him to demonstrate bravery and honor through his actions in the face of death. Although Gawain defeats his foes and keeps his promise to meet the Green Knight, he partially fails the test of bravery and honor and reveals his cowardice and lack of chivalry. A person may put forth an appearance of honesty, integrity and courage in the way he outwardly presents himself to others, but the true measure of a person’s character is through his action and behavior in the face of adversity and temptation.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Review of the Gawain Character in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. (2018, May 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-green-girdle-and-gawain/
“Review of the Gawain Character in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”.” GradesFixer, 01 May 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-green-girdle-and-gawain/
Review of the Gawain Character in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-green-girdle-and-gawain/> [Accessed 16 Aug. 2022].
Review of the Gawain Character in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 May 01 [cited 2022 Aug 16]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-green-girdle-and-gawain/
copy to clipboard
close

Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

    close

    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts

    close

    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.

    close

    Thanks!

    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!

    boy

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Don't use plagiarized sources. Get your custom essay. Get custom paper
    exit-popup-close

    Haven't found the right essay?

    Get an expert to write you the one you need!

    exit-popup-print

    Professional writers and researchers

    exit-popup-quotes

    Sources and citation are provided

    exit-popup-clock

    3 hour delivery

    exit-popup-persone