What Are The Five Virtues In Sir Gawain?

Updated 30 September, 2024
There are five knightly virtues in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which are chastity, courtesy, piety, friendship, and generosity. These virtues are engraved in Sir Gawain’s shield in the form of the pentangle.
Detailed answer:

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain represents the five virtues of chivalry, which are chastity, courtesy, piety, friendship, and generosity. During the book Gawain is faced with many temptations to test his honor after he takes King Arthur’s place in the game with the Green Knight.
From the beginning of the poem, Sir Gawain portrays his generosity by agreeing to cut the Green Knight’s head with an axe. He makes this decision after King Arthur fails to do so. Even though he knows that the consequence of the action is severe, he is ready to face them. The pact that the Green Knight suggested is that whoever cuts his head is going to face the same thing in a year, and most likely encounter his death. Despite this, Sir Gawain moves ahead to demonstrate his commitment through his generous act of saving the King.
Sir Gawain shows loyalty and courtesy when he makes the decision of honoring the promise he made with the Green Knight. This humility drives him to set off to pursue the Green Knight to honor the pact they agreed on. On his arrival at the Green chapel, he calls the Green Knight who emerges to greet him and to fulfill the terms of the contract. Sir Gawain presents his neck voluntarily to the Green Knight who feigns two blows. This is a commitment and a sign of piety that Gawain manifests.
Friendship is another one of the five knightly virtues Gawain is tested on. Gawain's friendship is tested by his battle between falling into Lady Bertilak's seduction and being truthful to Bertilak whenever they exchange their earnings at the end of the day.
Finally, Gawain holds to his vows of chastity when Lady Bertilak tries to seduce him. He does not wish to be discourteous or commit sin. He is gallant and chivalrous, but also keeps his word and stays true to himself.

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