Sir Gawain…a more realistic portrayal of nobility

Alas we come across come across a tale with some more nuances regarding the protagonist’s morality. Whereas in previous tales protagonists were depicted as flawless demigods(regardless of whether they really were or not), this Sir Gawain is quite blatantly depicted in dilemmas in which he does not always make the best choice: frolicking with the lord’s wife, despite his attempts to resist her advances and fully have an affair with her; accepting her girdle as a gift and not fulfilling his oath with the lord to exchange it as one of his earnings. Furthermore, besides explicit dilemmas, he is also depicted at times as lazy and some may even say craven, which is certainly something not seen before. Indeed, an entirely noble man would want to join the hunt and display his skill as a warrior.

Additionally, it seems from the perspective the narrator creates, that the more valiant behavior—a proper demonstration of nobility—would be not to be fearful in confronting the Green Knight, but instead have faith enough in their God so as to not be afraid of the possibility of death. In the case of this last comment, however, I do not think that any man other than a fool would rely solely on divine help, so I do not blame him myself; instead I merely point out the deviation from the ideal behavior, not seen with previous protagonists. Despite some clear foibles, I believe that we can and should still hold Sir Gawain in high regards. What mortal man has not lapsed even the slightest at times? As a result, the presentation of these predicaments offer a refreshing and introspective view of the human psyche with its imperfections, allowing for self-reflection and ultimately an opportunity to improve as an individual, albeit in my case I am already a god, and a demigod before that, so the latter is for all of you small humans.

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A Worthy Knight?

For whatever the reason, I have never really felt worthy of the position which I hold in Arthur’s court.  So far as I am concerned, his other knights are bolder, braver, stronger, and generally more talented than I.  How then, you may ask, do I find myself held in such high regard?  In truth, I am Arthur’s nephew.  This is no secret, mind you.  Rather, it is well known throughout the court.  As such, I feel that my companions have perhaps a better opinion of me than I deserve simply because the same noble blood that runs in Arthur’s veins is in mine as well.  Perhaps Arthur keeps me at the high table out of nepotism, or maybe he is blinded by our familial tie.  Which of these are true, I know not.  It does not matter, though, as I feel my position is undeserved regardless.

The time when I was perhaps the most aware of my own inadequacy was one New Year’s during the court’s feast.  As was usual for me, I occupied a seat that communicated to all that Arthur held me in favor.  I was at the high table, “seated beside Guenevere” (109) and many of the best knights Arthur had in his service.  Although I felt out of place being honored so, I enjoyed the feast regardless.  It would have been difficult not to with such mirth and merrymaking all round me!  Still, I was acutely aware of my position.

A great shock came upon the hall that evening, however, when a terrible and mysterious visitor burst into our midst.  He was a tremendous man, and perhaps even more notable than that was the fact that he was completely green, in both skin and dress, save for his terrible rolling “red eyes” (304).  He flew into the hall with no regard for us, mounted on horseback no less!  I was astounded by his brash discourtesy, especially as a feast was in progress.  Then, he had the gall to pose a challenge to the hall.  Shamefully, no one responded.  How I wish that I had spoken sooner!  Arthur, as a result, was forced to take up the challenge, lest the honor of the court be ruined.

However, I could not in good faith let him do such a thing.  Arthur is wonderful, and brave, and noble.  There is no one in England, no, the world, who could be a better king than he.  If he were to come to grief in this strange and supernatural challenge, it would be as if I had killed him by not stepping in myself!  For it mattered little if I died at the hands of this terrifying green knight.  As I have said, “I am the weakest [of Arthur’s court], I know, and the dullest minded,/ So my death would be the least loss” (354-55).  Of course, truth be told, I was terrified to say those words, but I knew them to be right.  I never could have forgiven myself if one of my worthier counterparts had died, or suffered so much as a scratch.  If anything, I thought, perhaps taking the challenge would help me to become just a bit worthier of my place in Arthur’s court, whether I came out of the ordeal alive or not.

A Knight’s Loyalty

 

It humbles me greatly to write about the tale between my Lady Love and myself. My heart warms at the very thought of her. At first, I was unable to speak of her, which pained me greatly. I wanted more than ever to shout at the high heavens how much I truly love this woman. But now it has changed, and I can be with her freely at last. It seemed that for most of my life, I had gone unnoticed for my nobility and strengths as a knight of King Arthur’s Court; but to then be noticed by the most noble, wise, and beautiful, (Lanval, 72) was my greatest honor. I cannot think of a greater moment in my life than the moment my Lady came to my rescue on her horse.

There were no happier moments in my life than the days I spent with my Lady and living in her worth. I shared my new wealth with all who would receive it and show me love and respect, and also those who deserved it – maybe some who did not. But I did not care. I wanted to share my wealth, happiness, and freedom with the rest of the lands. I wanted them to feel what I was feeling. These were my happiest days, and all was well until loyalty came into play.

I am loyal to King Arthur. I swore this loyalty the day I became a knight in his court. In doing this, I committed to a lifetime of servitude for the King, and his Queen, and to defend the Kingdom on which he rules. A knight should be many things, but above all he should be loyal and courageous. I attested to be both of these things, until Queen Guinivere made her advances toward me and I was not able to respond to them in a respectful manner. While I first tried to politely decline her advances, to remain loyal to both King Arthur and my Lady, the Queen did not take my rejections to her lightly. After many vengeful and harmful insults in my direction, she finally left to tell the King of the horrible way in which I insulted her. HA! No matter, my Love came to clear my name in the end, and to prove her beauty and worthiness to all of the Court.

I could not be more grateful to have such an honorable story told in my name. I was unable to receive the recognition as a Knight that I had always wanted until my tale was told. Though I cannot say whether or not the Lady and I escaped to Avalon, I can tell you that I will forever remain happy and at peace with my Lady.

Bisclavret

Arhh returning to the tale restores the former pain I bore for many years. I claim not to be a great man; nor even a good one, but in determining if or if not I am a monster please consider the facts concerning me for my is truly good. You see me fall at the foot of a king. in motions wrought with servitude.

No one, at this point in life, is able to choose the physical traits they are born with. I have wept a thousand tears and weep yet a thousand more for it hurts the love so deeply and have no affections returned to you. i suppose I operated the belief that those closest to you cannot be trusted. And how this proved true with my wife! I loved her! Oh how I love her, yet she could not bare coming to terms with the truth of what and who I truly am. The truth of the matter is though is that, “she never loved [me]” or cared for me in any regard, and so betrayed me.

I was only first received by anyone for that matter, by the king himself. The king was able to me for the good man that I am and was overjoyed to see his knight. If nothing else, one must grant me a degree of loyalty, of iron steadfastness. I assure you that I understand the privilege of being so near and dear to the king. However, I do wish that someday a woman would love me with the kind of love which all seek: romance.

What could the moral be?

Being told this story from the perspective of Lanval has influenced my way of thinking when it comes to the actions of myself and my court on that strange, bizarre day. I don’t even remember this “Sir Lanval” existing, then to my surprise he appears one day to distribute untold wealth and riches to all my knights! It did not surprise me to find that my lady, the Queen Guinevere would betray me in such a way as she did with Lanval, and it surprises me less that Lanval retained his honor and did not betray my trust. My queen has elicited such Godless encounters before with Sir Lancelot, and though it pains me so, I have come to expect such behavior of her.

Alas, all that did not diminish my enjoyment of this story. There was, however, something that bothered me, as a learned man. That is, what lesson or moral was this tale supposed to impart? The teachings of our holy texts tell us the ways by which we should live our lives, and stories such as these should engage in the same sort of didactisms.

There was the obvious idea that one should live their life honorably, but I would compel any reader to find a story that didn’t contain this moral. Any story with clear protagonists and antagonists would demonstrate this truth by its very nature. Other than that, this tale tells all the sad-sacks the world over that they can attain vast riches and beautiful women simply by feeling sorry for themselves.

Bisclavret’sWife

Cursed be the name of Bisclavret! How I lament for his Lady, that poor, misunderstood creature. Living in a world where men beguile her to trust them then bring torture to her poor soul. She had sense to know her husband had a deceitful secret and still she loved him and wanted to bear the heaviness that weighed him down. The most flattering words fall from her baron’s mouth as he whispers sweet nothings to trick her into knowing him. Fear crippled her as she fled to safety-only to be turned against and mangled. I weep for you my dear Lady and pray God he has a place for you in heaven.

Bisclavret

Arhh returning to the tale restores the former pain I bore for many years. I claim not to be a great man; nor even a good one, but in determining if or if not I am a monster please consider the facts concerning me for my is truly good. You see me fall at the foot of a king. in motions wrought with servitude.

No one, at this point in life, is able to choose the physical traits they are born with. I have wept a thousand tears and weep yet a thousand more for it hurts the love so deeply and have no affections returned to you. i suppose I operated the belief that those closest to you cannot be trusted. And how this proved true with my wife! I loved her! Oh how I love her, yet she could not bare coming to terms with the truth of what and who I truly am. The truth of the matter is though is that, “she never loved [me]” or cared for me in any regard, and so betrayed me.

I was only first received by anyone for that matter, by the king himself. The king was able to me for the good man that I am and was overjoyed to see his knight. If nothing else, one must grant me a degree of loyalty, of iron steadfastness. I assure you that I understand the privilege of being so near and dear to the king. However, I do wish that someday a woman would love me with the kind of love which all seek: romance.