Chivalry in Sir Gawain

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Chivalry is a major value to all of the characters in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Everyone lives by the code of chivalry, even if sometimes it means not revealing their true feelings. Chivalry is very similar to morality. The values of chivalry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are almost identical to the moral values one would find in the bible It seems chivalrous first of all, that Gawain asks to stand in for King Arthur in the challenge the green knight presents. It seems to me that he offers this to relieve his King from the stress of the challenge. Also, even though Gawain could just not go when it is time for the green knight to swing at him with an axe, he knows he must because it is the chivalrous thing to do, and if he didn't then he would be severely dishonored.

Although Gawain tries to be selfless and chivalrous on his journey, he also encounters his own human need for food and shelter. He prays and a castle appears. However, once Gawain is inside Bercilak's castle his chivalry is again challenged, when he meets his beautiful wife.

Bercilak's wife attempts to seduce Gawain each day that he is there. He of course refuses her because of his chivalry. He has made an agreement with Bercilak that he will trade what he has won each day in the house for what Bercilak has won hunting. Each night Gawain gives Bercilak the kisses he received from his wife in exchange for game. However, after Bercilak's wife gives Gawain a green garter which she says will protect him from harm, Gawain only gives Bercilak the kisses he received and keeps the garter for himself.

Later Gawain challenges the green knight and...