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.

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2 thoughts on “A Worthy Knight?

  1. I must commend you, great Sir Gawain! Your courage in the face of such an ungodly foe is truly worthy of the admiration Arthur and his court invest in you. Never let your doubts overcome your sense of nobility, or the burning Courage and Strength that accompanies you wherever you travel. Courage and Strength are both such fierce companions, capable of following anywhere in this mortal world. Truly, you do these companions and your peers in Arthur’s court a great service by selflessly volunteering yourself before the red eyed brute.

    As well, you must know always that God values such Good Deeds as you have shone on that fateful Yule celebration! Were I capable of demonstrating such bravery and selfless action before I met with Death, perhaps my own Good Deeds would not have needed the help of a heartfelt Confession to earn me a place in Heaven. Make sure always to keep your Humility close at heart, and never give in to the vices of Pride and Boasting. Truly, great Sir Gawain, I hold you in highest regard, both for your actions and your values. Keep your faith and continue to face the travails of your place in Arthur’s court with the same nobility you have demonstrated thus far. Do as such, and I think you will find that I, Everyman, and your peers in Arthur’s court are not the only souls who will lend you admiration and faith. Our Lord holds a special place for those of good spirit, great faith, and insurmountable Good Deeds. I commend you, great knight!

  2. Sir Gawain you are indeed as noble and worthy a knight as ever there was. King Arthur would be a mighty fool were he to treat you as anything less than his most loyal ally. Your actions in his court, such as that which you describe, only further prove your worthy and how indispensable you truly are. Only you, his most steadfast brother in arms, had the courage to accept the challenge and risk your own life in place of your lord’s.
    However, your humility is what truly sets you apart from King Arthur’s other knights. Though there may be other loyal and brave knights, I believe there is none so humble as you. You say yourself how expendable you are and how unworthy of your position at King Arthur’s side, but it is your humility that earns you this very position. Most knights would boast of having such a high position or abuse the very trust and power that comes with being the most trusted of your King’s men, yet you do no such thing. You even go so far as to humble yourself before the other knight’s by labeling yourself as the most expendable, when in fact a friend such as yourself is far more precious than a vast sum of gold. You truly do yourself, your King, and his court a credit with your noble deeds. If any man on earth has earned his knighthood it is indeed you, dear man. May you hold your place at King Arthur’s side for many years to come!

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