Term Paper: Gawain the Two Sides

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The Two Sides of Sir Gawain

Many characters throughout history have been portrayed by different authors in different periods in different lights. For instance, Achilles is portrayed much differently in Homer's Iliad than he is in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. The same is for the case of Sir Gawain, who is best known for his part in the English Arthurian epic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In this piece, Sir Gawain has some issues with pride, but is mostly the epitome of what a knight should be. He is humble, and brave; when he sins he is the first to admit it and redeem himself for what he has done. In Thomas Mallory's Le Morte d'Aurthur, however, Sir Gawain is portrayed in a more negative light. Although he is still a Knight of the Round Table and does represent a certain chivalry associate with Arthur's court, Gawain is represented as more devious, foolish, and lustful.

In both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Le Morte d'Arthur, Sir Gawain is a highly respected knight. He serves his uncle, King Arthur, and is well-known throughout the region. He is portrayed as especially humble in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. When he is praised before the King for his bravery in pursuing the Green Knight, Sir Gawain is first to humble himself before Arthur, "By God, I'd be glad, if it pleased you, to offer you / Some different service, in word or deed / to serve such excellence would be endless delight," (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 3, lines 1241-1247). Despite his positive image in the beginning of the work, Sir Gawain still finds faults within his self. It then becomes part of his mission to defeat the negative portion of his own psyche as he defeats external enemies as well. When he falls to temptation, he redeems himself through repentance. On his own accord, he wears the green girdle which caused him to sin, as a sign of his fall… [END OF PREVIEW]

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