Chivalry in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Apr 30, 2024
Cite this
Date added
Pages:  2
Order Original Essay

How it works


Medieval romance stories are often tales that produce a sense of fantasy and wonder. Knights, who are often the central focus of medieval stories, embody a culture that emphasizes courtesy, nobility, and chivalry. Knights and their stories are often fascinating as they provide a lifestyle and sense of honor that appears to be missing in the modern world. However, it is not just the knights’ code of conduct that amazes so many. Knights almost always undergo a personal challenge or obstacle that either tests their beliefs or their physical strength.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

The medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight embodies both of these challenges. Sir Gawain, the protagonist, is a character that upholds courtesy and knighthood above all other values. Gawain embarks on a noble journey that tests his fighting skills as well as his ability to remain loyal to his chivalrous code. As Sir Gawain’s journey comes to a close, he comes to the self-realization that he is not and will not ever be perfect, and also provides readers with the encouragement to strive to live with honor and be their best selves.

The Chivalrous Code

Sir Gawain is a member of the honorable Round Table at Camelot, with King Arthur being their noble leader. Sir Gawain is a highly regarded knight, with many describing him as the “Most able, most knightly, best on earth, Most famous, most honored of men” ( Raffel
913-914). One day, during Christmas festivities, a Green Knight bursts into the court with a challenge. The Green Knight invites any man in the court “to strike as they please” (290), but in one year’s time, the Green Knight will have the opportunity to equally return the strike back to the challenger. As the leader of his court, King Arthur initially accepts the challenge. Sir Gawain, being an honorable knight, requests that his king step down from the challenge and let himself offer his life. Sir Gawain is confident that he will strike the Green Knight dead but remains extremely humble when he proclaims: “Hear me my lord. Let this challenge be mine…And I am the slightest, the dullest of them all; my life the least, my death no loss” (354-355). Sir Gawain strikes hard down onto the neck of the Green Knight, only to witness the mysterious man pick up his severed head and claim that he will wait for Gawain in a year’s time at his Green Chapel.

As a year passes and Gawain prepares to leave Camelot, the court members’ “hearts sank gray and cold…Gawain only smiled: ‘Should I waste my time with fear? Whether pleasant or wild, fate must be put to the test'” (543, 561-565). Although Sir Gawain fears that his life will end at the  hands of the Green Knight, he remains composed and courteous as he chooses to follow through with the challenge that may bring him death.


During his physical journey to find the mysterious Green Chapel, Sir Gawain undergoes the classic tests that challenge his physical capabilities as a knight and honorable warrior. Through forests and mountains, Sir Gawain “found himself facing enemies so foul and wild that they forced him to fight for his life…His strength saved him, and his courage, and his faith in God” (716-725). As in most tales of knights’ journeys, Sir Gawain also must overcome a test of character in addition to a test of physical prowess. Fighting fierce animals in the wilderness tested his physical capabilities, while a more challenging trial awaited him in a glorious castle ruled by an unnamed lord and lady.


  1. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation” by Simon Armitage 

  2. “Chivalry and Romance in the English Renaissance” by Maurice Keen 

  3. “The Idea of the Castle in Medieval England” by Abigail Wheatley 

  4. “Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe” by Richard W. Kaeuper 

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay
Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

Chivalry in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight". (2023, Aug 31). Retrieved from