On Sir Gawain & The Green Knight
One of the central themes in the poem Sir Gawain
and the Green Knight is the notion of Christian virtue
and the way that Sir Gawain is challenged to maintain his
virtue while faced with worldly temptations.
Interestingly, the poet chooses a pagan figure (the Green
Knight) to test Sir Gawain’s Christian virtue, and it
can be argued that the importance of this figure is
defined by the medieval notion of pagan decadence and the
temptations of the flesh as compared to the central
components of Christian virtue, which purports the
necessity for compliance with Christian valuations of
fidelity, truth and honor.
Sir Gawain is a man not only tempted by physical
desires, but also by his own fear and his need for
self-protection. Though the poet clearly attempts to
distinguish Sir Gawain’s physical desires from his
prowess as a knight and his compulsion for both
self-protection and for victory in the quest, segments of
the poem also demonstrate Sir Gawain’s own limitations
as a mortal and his fear at the hands of the seemingly
immortal Green Knight. The progression of events
underscores Sir Gawain’s attempts at complicity with
Christian values even though there are elements in the
poem that underscore his sometimes faltering character.
site lists more than a dozen essays on Sir Gawain &
The Green Knight ! CLICK HERE to
browse our list!