Term Paper: Knighthood and Chivalry: Heroism, Love

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[. . .] In him, Chaucer seeks to deviate from the common notion of knighthood that people have, and illustrate an almost comical depiction of a knight that lives for knighthood's sake, and ironically, does not possess the respect for love and honor that most knights try to emulate through their actions and behavior.

Lastly, Sir Gawain in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is a character that, compared to Sir Thopas, Arcita, and Palamon, portrays the ideal knight or model of knighthood. In this story, the theme of resisting temptation and courage for the sake of honor is demonstrated.

The theme of resisting temptation becomes evident in the first part of the story, wherein Sir Gawain engages in a hunt with Bercilak, host to Sir Gawain upon his arrival to prepare for the Green Knight's invitation for a duel. After the hunt, Bercilak and Sir Gawain exchange gifts, of which a kiss had become the most interesting 'gift' that Sir Gawain had given to Bercilak. Unknown to Bercilak, the kiss came from his wife, who has shown interest in Sir Gawain. Despite the manifest display of interest the woman have for him, Sir Gawain managed to resist the temptation to reciprocate to the woman, out of respect for her and her husband, the "good host," Bercilak.

Indeed, his chivalrous manners have benefited him, since Bercilak, who is also the Green Knight, has witnessed Sir Gawain's resistance, validating that he is, indeed, a noble knight: "He embraces his broad neck with both his arms, And confers on him a kiss in the comeliest style. "Such a gift," said the good host, "I gladly accept- Yet it might be all the better, would you but say Where you won this same award, by your wits alone." "That was no part of the pact; press me no further, For you have had what behooves; all other claims Forbear." Like his wife, Bercilak, as the good host and treacherous Green Knight, has given Sir Gawain the temptation, of which the knight had successfully resisted. In the Green Knight, we see the anti-thesis of everything that Sir Gawain stood for: while Sir Gawain respected Bercilak's wife, the latter uses his wife in order to test the honesty and integrity the knight's character. Sir Gawain's infallible character and behavior will, ultimately, lead to the Green Knight's anger and eagerness to win the duel between him and the knight.

Despite the Green Knight's treacherous character, he also displays competent qualities, which will make the duel against him more challenging and complicated for Sir Gawain. On the day of the duel itself in the Green Chapel, it is evident that Sir Gawain is affected by his unfamiliarity with the surroundings, and the foreboding presence of death, which will happen at the end of the duel. However, despite these discouraging "signals," Sir Gawain went on to fight against the Green Knight. Despite the feeling that danger awaits him, Sir Gawain mustered enough courage to at least face the challenge ahead of him: "... If I turned back now Forsook this place for fear, and fled...I were a caitiff coward; I could not be excused." These lines tells us that Gawain still maintains his stature as a knight, a man who is not afraid of anything, even if it would result to his death. Thus, he solemnly brings to Fate and God his plight in the duel by saying, "The bridge was brought down, and the broad gates / Unbarred and carried back upon both side / He commended him to Christ, and crossed over the planks."

This passage illustrates that, like Arcita and Palamon in "The Knight's Tale," Sir Gawain subsisted to the help of God in order to win against the Green Knight. In sum, the knight characters as presented in "Canterbury Tales" and "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" demonstrates the view of knights as chivalrous, although each author maintains, up to certain degree, individuality that is unique from each knight: Arcita his rationality; Palamon his being a romantic knight; Sir Thopas as the adventurous, yet irresolute knight; and Sir Gawain as a man of integrity and honor.

Works Cited

E-text of "The Knight's Tale." Available at http://www.literatureclassics.com/etexts/98/89/.

E-text of "The Tale of Sir Thopas." Available at http://www.literatureclassics.com/etexts/98/96/. [END OF PREVIEW]

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Knighthood and Chivalry: Heroism, Love.  (2004, October 31).  Retrieved June 26, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/knighthood-chivalry-heroism-love/5205973

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"Knighthood and Chivalry: Heroism, Love."  Essaytown.com.  October 31, 2004.  Accessed June 26, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/knighthood-chivalry-heroism-love/5205973.