ARiesett Blog 3 Knights

According to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it is impossible for a hero to abide by both the code of chivalry and the rules of courtly love simultaneously.  A hero cannot simply be a gentleman and a knight in the same instance.  Sir Gawain was the perfect example of this.  He tried his best to follow all the edicts of chivalry and courtly love, but he had to break a few of these guidelines in order to stay true to them because some of these rules/codes are contradictory.  Thus, he made the decision to sacrifice some laws for the greater good of all the laws and it worked out in his favor because he was deemed the most chivalrous knight of all by King Arthur.

The code of chivalry that Sir Gawain broke was to “always keep one’s word of honor.”  Gawain made a covenant with Lord Bernlak de Hautdesert to exchange what was given to Gawain at the castle and that the Lord would give Gawain whatever was given to him on the hunt. They abided by this covenant for three days and Gawain kept his word until the third day when he broke the covenant by not giving the lord the green griddle that was given to him by the lord’s wife.  Later in the story he confesses his sins to the Green Knight, who is in fact the lord, and is forgiven.  Perhaps, Gawain broke this code because he was in love with the lord’s wife and was trying to follow the rule of courtly love that says “when made public true love rarely endures” and Gawain was being loyal to his love because she told him to keep the green griddle from her husband.

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I think that your justification as to why Gawain may not have kept his word to Lord Bernlak de Hautdesert is really interesting. I didn’t even think to try and give reasoning to his choice of lying other than he wanted to keep the girdle for himself. It does make sense that he could want to protect the relationship between himself and the wife. Interesting analysis!

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