The Noble Knight Essay, Research Paper
The Noble Knight
In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the protagonist, Gawain, illustrates deep down nobility and honesty to himself and everyone that he comes in contact with. Gawain is a good man whose only crime is berating himself all too much, therefore making both statements about him somewhat true true. Like every human he makes mistakes and must grow from them, yet for Gawain, a flaw is not acceptable and he believes that one failure makes him a failure to humanity and the lord. He is a very humble man, as all the knights are required to be, so when he makes a mistake he magnifies it and ignores the many virtues that he obtains. Therefore, the many peers of Gawain find it easy to congratulate him and praise him while Gawain will remain humble and true to himself. What Gawain must learn is that in order to be truly good, he must also know the bad.
An example of the never-ending praise that Gawain receives is from the Green Knight where he states, Not many better men have walked this earth, been worth as much- like a pearl to a pea, compared to other knights (p.120). Here the Green Knight is talking to Gawain explaining his valor and honor in comparison to the other Knights of the Round Table. This statement that the lord made is perfectly valid, yet Gawain again defers this praise and believes himself to be unworthy. In the entire court of King Arthur, Gawain was the only knight who was brave enough to take the challenge presented by the Green Knight. Also, he displayed his incredible loyalty to King Arthur when he was refusing to let King Arthur take the challenge without embarrassing him in front of all the guests. Permit me to rise without discourtesy, and without displeasing your queen. Let me come to council you, here in your noble court (p.58). Gawain believes it to be wrong that the King should take the challenge himself in his own walls. That example is perfect in exhibiting the truth behind the statement that Gawain, compared to the other knights is like a pearl to a pea. It is very clear that this statement by the lord is perfectly valid, even though Gawain would humbly reject such praise.
Gawain feels unworthy of the praise that he received because he had taken the belt from the woman in order to save his life, therefore breaking the agreement that he has with the lord. Because of this slight infringement in the agreement, Gawain then states that he has failed as a person. Fear of your blow taught me cowardice, brought me to greed, took me from myself and the goodness, the faith, that belongs to knighthood. I m false, now, forever afraid of bad faith and treachery (p.121). The failure that Gawain made is not good reason for him to believe that he is a failure as one of the Knights of the Rounds Table. This is a ludicrous statement just as King Arthur later points out when Gawain returns from the journey and recounts the events that happened. King Arthur knows that this was a slight mistake, yet everyone makes them and The king consoled him, and all that court, and they laughed and resolved then and there (124). On the other hand the statement that Gawain makes after the event with the Green Knight does have some truth to it. The severity that Gawain presents this mistake is rather exaggerated, yet not completely false. Gawain was in truth afraid for his life, which led him to take the green belt, therefore breaking the agreement with the lord. This loss of faith in the lord is a mistake, just like the Green Knight points out after Gawain flinches when the axe came down. Yet, Gawain states that after this event he is now false which doesn t seem to be exactly the case. Although Gawain did in fact commit this one sin, which does seem rather small, because of a human s main natural instinct: the will to survive. Here in the story it seems to show metaphorically that even the most humble and loyal knight will have the basic instinct to survive. Gawain should not feel regret for his actions and he should realize that the basic human nature of man cannot be suppressed, nor ignored.
It is very clear at this point that there is truth to both statements said in the story. Gawain in the story is very clearly an honorable knight, who is a true pearl among peas. He was at fault when he lost his faith, yet this loss is only because he wanted to live, which is not a crime. As the poet later states in the story, every man, no matter how noble, true, or loyal he may be, is still a man abiding by the laws and ways of nature.