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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay


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Honor and Courage Persevere

The poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by John Gardner, is set in the Middle Ages. This was a time in history when people focused on the values and ideals of the Code of Chivalry, a code of honor intended to govern knightly behavior. As Arthur and his knights get together to feast and celebrate Christmas and the new year their festivities were interrupted by a man of green who wandered about searching for adventure so that he can disprove his chivalry. The two values that are most clearly stated in the poem are courage and honor. It will become clear by the actions of the characters that courage and honor is shown in several different areas of the poem.
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, courage is defined as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Courage can be shown in a variety of ways. In this particular instance the Green Knight challenged King Arthur or any of the knights of the roundtable to take his ax and hit his bare neck. He said to them, “And I will stand still for your stroke, steady on the floor, / provided you honor my right, when my inning comes, / to repay” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 213). Clearly, the Green Knight shows a tremendous amount of courage, knowing the danger that it is going to befall him if one of the knights takes up the ax to his neck. Sir Gawain is another instance where courage was lost and then found. After a year, Gawain met the Green Knight to seal his portion of the deal and allow the Green Knight to bring down the ax in his bare neck. Sir Gawain flinched in fear the first two times. Then “Gawain stands there stirring not even a nerve; / he stood there still as a stone or the stock of a tree/ that’s wedged in rocky ground by a hundred roots” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 218-219). The Green Knight

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