Sir Gawain in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay” is a knight in King Arthur’s court who upholds himself by the chivalric codes that have become parallel with the knights of the round table. These time-honored virtues are that of courage, courtesy, and loyalty which Sir Gawain demonstrates through his many actions.
Similar to the epic hero Beowulf, Gawain defeated his opponent with great ease. Gawain courageously slashed the neck of the Green Knight, rendering him headless. This act of courage led him to demonstrate yet another display of heroic valor, when Gawain honors his word to find the Green Knight for a second challenge.
Although he feared facing the knight, Gawain showed his bravery and honor by keeping his word.
Courtesy is persistant throughout the tale of Sir Gawain . Since he is unable to give the princess anything in return, Gawain exhibit of courtesy and his polite characteristics are shown when he kindly rejects the gold ring and many other gifts the princess offers. However, Gawain did accept one gift the princess offered him, a magical sash that was said to protect him from death. Gawain’s courtesy was also extended to the Green Knight when he returned the sash to him after their second battle from which Sir Gawain remained unharmed.
Finally, Gawain’s loyalty to his host, kept him from yielding to the princess advances.
Although tempted, he submitted only to the innocent kisses of the princess. Another display of loyalty is his promise he keeps to the lord of the castle. Even though Gawain did not give him the sash at the end of the day when they were suppossed to exchange gifts, it was in the case of life and death.
In conclusion, Sir Gawain’s committment to honor the knightly codes of courage, courtesy, and loyalty wins him favor in the eyes fo the Green Knight. He labels Sir Gawain a tried and valiant soldier, who in his view took the sash only as a last resort to prevent his own death.
The Riverside Anthology of Literature–Third Edition Houghton Mifflin Company Boston 1997–pg 43 .