Sir Gawain was known as a noble and honest man who was willing to stare death in the face to protect King Arthur. However, the courtly Sir Gawain is submitted to the unexpectednot to the test he expects, but to one he does not expect (qtd. in Spearing). The underlying theme throughout the entire poem is temptation, which, is Sir Gawains greatest challenge because he is not aware of it.
He faltered not nor feared
But quickly went his way,
His road was rough and weird,
Or so the stories say.
(qtd. Stone 47)Order now
Sir Gawain stands up just as the Green Knight challenges King Arthur. Gawain saves his uncle from the humiliation the Green Knight imposes on the King from his badgering; for this Gawain is very brave. He has no fear in approaching the Green Knight and accepting the game. Sir Gawain was a man who was held in high esteem before the people at Camelot. Thus, he was given the title Sir Gawain, which sealed his noble existence.
A knight is a man who, for some achievement, is given honorary rank and thus entitling him to use Sir before his given name (qtd. in Websters pg. 747).
King Arthur was a very honorable man, one with boyish spirits and youthful persona. The King also displays his humble nature when at the table, he refused to begin eating before any of his guests. However, when the Green Knight confronts him he does not cower before him.
He raged as roaring gale;
His followers felt the same.
The King, not one to quail,
To that cavalier then came.
The Green Knight was described as a handsome, muscular man. Because every article of clothing the Green Knight wore was green, including his skin and hair, he is reminiscent of a fertility god. This idea of a fertility god plays a role when introducing the theme of temptation on the behalf of the Lords wife. He was very confident and witty.
Green and huge of grain,
Mettlesome in might
And brusque with bit and rein-
A steed to serve that knight!
The opposition between Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay began when the knight entered the kings hall on New Years Eve. He challenged anyone present to strike him with an axe, providing that he could do the same one-year later. Gawain, not wanting the King to partake in such a game, takes up the challenge and cuts off the Green Knights head. The knight then, picks up his head, and tells Gawain to meet him at the Green Chapel in one year.
Gawain goes searching for the Green Chapel ten months later. He stays at a nearby castle for Christmas and New Years, entertained by the Lords wife.
At the end of each day Gawain was to exchange with the lord whatever he had gained.
While the Lord is off hunting, his wife, attempts his Gawains chastity (Stone 11). However, the wife can do no more than kiss Gawain, for he would not allow it. The wife of the Lord tries one more time to seduce the noble knight in his bed. This time she is dressed much more provocatively. Gawain, amazed at her appearance, says: God love you gracious lady (Norton 234).
Further, he is happy that a very beautiful woman like the Lords wife spends time talking with him: it is a pleasure surpassing it comforts my hurt (Norton 234). Afterwards she tries to kiss him again, but Gawain is very defensive so that no fault appears but only complete happiness. She kisses him for a second time: They linger and laugh awhile and she departs without more ado (Norton 234). But the during the third, and final attempt to seduce Gawain, she persuades him to accept her girdle, which she convinces him will protect his life. Gawain conceals this gift from the Lord because he cannot exchange it.
Gawain is hesitant to be involved with the Lady for three equally important reasons.
First, she is the Lords wife and, being a noble gentleman, he would not want to dishonor him. Second, if he sleeps with her, he has to exchange it with the Lord. Finally, he is afraid to commit sin before he faces God because his death .