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Reading The Code of Chivalry and The Rules of Courtly love, it becomes clear that it is not possible to completely follow all of the rules.  The rules become more like guidelines for a knight to follow.  Also, there are so many contradicting rules that it allows for a knight to justify what he is doing, as long as it is in the rules of chivalry.

Looking at the text Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the rules of Chivalry there are many things that Gawain does right, even though the rules make it difficult for him to decide what to do.  The Code of Chivalry says “Always keep one’s word of honor”.  This is something that Gawain does very well.  He goes looking for the green knight knowing that he will be killed, simply because he feels that he must uphold his end of the bargain.  Most people would run away from their imminent death.  The Rules of Courtly Love say that “Good character alone makes any man worthy of love”.  Gawain’s interaction with his hosts wife make the reader question of Sir Gawain truly has good character, and if the reader is to judge good character based on the rules of chivalry, they will have a very difficult time.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted January 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree that Sir Gawain held up his honor even when things were very challenging. I think that it’s sad that Sir Gawain did not have a lover or wife since he was such a noble knight. However, a love interest would have probably led to his downfall so it’s better that way.

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  2. Posted January 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    One could argue that Sir Gawain was still a man of good character because he followed the rule of courtly love by adhering to the wishes of the lady. It seems like the rules of courtly love and the tenets of chivalry are a double-edged sword.

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  3. Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    I agree that Sir Gawain upheld a strong sense of nobility and character. During his journey at all times he tried to obey the Code of Chivalry and the rules of Courtly Love. It was very difficult to abide by all of these rules and often lead to an unfair judgement of him. In all I feel he demonstrated honor in going after the Green Knight and presented great character by not engaging in a serious love affair.

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  4. Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    I agree that Sir Gawain upheld his honor to the best of his abilities, but I also think that the story shows the inevitability of contradicting codes.

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