The Image of Midevil Hero in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Since the dawn of human literature, humanity has asked itself what traits make a hero? As we look back into the Medieval ages and sample their literary masterpiece, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the traits of a Medieval hero is made concrete. A Medieval hero is humble and loyal to their people even in the most dangerous situations. Loyalty stems from making personal sacrifices to keep people away from danger and to be devoted to one's cause, even in the most daring times. Moreover, a heroes modest attitude exemplifies them as someone less than others, lending themselves to serve all and respect those around them. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain is made out to be one of King Arthur's most loyal and humble knights undoubtedly making him a Medieval hero. Although some may say when Sir Gawain accepted the gift from lady Bercilak he betrayed his hosts trust and their agreement to return everything he receives. It should be noted that Gawain later wore the same gift to acknowledge his failure, being honest about his defeat and admitting his mistakes, demonstrating humility through his actions and apologizing for his betrayal of loyalty.

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain's exhibitions of loyalty and humility in daily life constitute him as a medieval hero due to his devotion to Arthur and his unwavering humble attitude. In the expository acts of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the first members of King Arthur's round table we meet is a young and inexperienced knight named Sir Gawain. Despite his age and lack of experience, his loyalty to King Arthur is not diminished. Gawain’s test of character is first challenged when a peculiar knight with an intimidating demeanor appears at Camelot during the Christmas feast. The knight challenges those in King Arthur's court to a beheading game. The other kids ignore the green man's challenge, leaving King Arthur to accept the challenge himself. Sir Gawain, in a feat of loyalty, heroically steps forward to take the king’s place. He modestly accepts the challenge saying, “My life the least, my death no loss - My only worth is you, my royal Uncle, all my virtue is through you. And this foolish business fits my station, Not yours: let me play this green man's game.“ The green knight's axe game entailed letting the challenger swing an axe to any part of the green knight's body, and exactly a year later the green man can do the same action to the challenger. Accepting this game would mean certain death, an axe swing to the neck is hardly a survivable situation, regardless Gawain accepts the challenge, for it meant protecting his lord. Gawain's selflessness through the phrase “My life the least, my death no loss- My only worth is you, my royal Uncle, all my virtue is through you.”, compares himself to a servant. His purpose to serve his lord even if it means death. He is given his worth though King Aurthur's generosity in accepting him as a knight, and subsequently, Gawain has dedicated his life to the wellbeing of his lord and those around him. Gawain credits Aurthur with being the medium through which he can display such acts of humility, “all my virtue is through you”, he puts himself beneath those he protects, as Sir Gawain seeks no prizes in his actions. He is motivated through his gratitude for his lord's guidance and generosity in making him a knight. His actions are dictated by the trust he has formed with his king, “the foolish business” which describes the Green Knights dangerous game alludes the mystery bound with the foreign knight and the danger that is associated with his secret game. Gawain's sacrifice to take upon the Green man's game protects his lord from the obvious risk posed by the foreign Knight.

 Gawain's selflessness to volunteer himself as a servant whose only worth is his “royal Uncle” undoubtedly shines light upon his humility and unwavering loyalty. Gawain sets out to find the Green Knight, while on his quest, he stays at the castle of Lord Bercilak, the real identity of the Green Man. Gawain is nothing but a gentleman to Lord Bercilak’s Lady. Lady Bercilak is persistent in her attempts to seduce Gawain, regardless of her advances he treats her with courtesy, respect, and kindness. The Lady of the House tempts Gawain insisting that she should be his wife, he responds by telling her, “But for me to try to tell you true love’s Rules...Knowing that you know everything I could say and more, are wiser in love than a hundred, This would make me a hundredfold fool! As best I can, I want to Obey you; This is my duty, now and forever, To serve you, lady, so help me God!...she tested him...trying to tempt him, pretending to love, And Gawain was so gracefully evasive...Always polite, and nothing happened but happiness. “. The lord's lady is testing Gawain's loyalty to the Lord, she is tempting him with her persistent attempts to seducing him. Regardless of her advances, Gawain is concrete in his dedication to his morals. He evades the situation by saying that he is already committed to someone else ending her test against Sir Gawain. Regardless during the ordeal, Gawain's loyalty shines bright, “ As best I can, I want to Obey you; This is my duty, now and forever, To serve you, lady”, he positions himself as a servant to her. He puts himself beneath her as he is devoted to serving those who lord Bercilak values, thus being humble in his actions as he is a Knight and well respected around the lands. Furthermore, his dedication shines as he is faced with tests by the lord's lady in an attempt to tempt him into loving her. Gawain responds with kindness and evasive politeness, never failing to be a gentleman to the lady while concurrently respecting his lord’s trust.

On the whole, some argue that during Gawain's stressful last moments before facing the Green Man's axe, he accepted a gift from the Lady to guarantee his survival. The event caused Gawain to betray his lord's trust by breaking their deal. However, Gawain later uses the gift as a lesson, wearing it openly to acknowledge his past betrayal of loyalty, thus demonstrating humility in his action and apologizing for his disloyalty to Lord Bercilak.

07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now