Yet in the end, the characters in the poem who appear to be most in conflict with the natural world because of their strict adherence to civilization’s codes of conduct prove to have more than a little of the animal in their natures. This is true of both Sir Gawain and Sir Bertilak. Sir Bertilak, for example, is also the Green Knight. Sir Gawain, on the other hand, allows his animal instinct for survival to win out over his code of knightly honor. Both of these characters show that the sharp divide between man and the natural world may be more illusion than reality.
The events in the poem make the character of Sir Gawain verybelievable and is part of the reason why is one of the greatestliterary works of Middle English.
n the first segment of the poem, we are introduced to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
The first stanza alone describes a terrible storm on New Year's Eve, emphasizing Gawain's sense of dread as he fearfully anticipates the meeting with the Green Knight.
The Green Knight forgives Gawain, urges him to keep the sash as a token of their struggle, and invites him back to the castle to celebrate the New Year.
It is very similar to previous descriptions of armor we have encountered before: in Fitt I with the Green Knight and in Fitt II with Gawain before setting off on his quest.
In the symbolic scheme of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which emphasizes the contrast between civilization and the natural world outside of it, Gawain is the character perhaps most closely connected to civilization. This is because of his adherence to not one but three of civilization’s ordering systems – chivalry, courtoisie, and Christianity.
In the course of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain’s character undergoes testing not only during the seduction scenes, but also as his survival instinct wars with his knightly duty to fulfill his oath to the Green Knight. This survival instinct causes Gawain to slip at the end of the story; he fails to turn over the green girdle to Lord Bertilak as the rules of their exchange-of-winnings game (and of knightly conduct) dictate. Yet, as Lord Bertilak reminds Gawain, in this, he’s only human. Finding that out, however, is difficult for Gawain, who berates himself as a failure. Like most medieval romance heroes, Gawain’s adventure ends up teaching him a lot about himself – in this case, that he’s not perfect, no matter what anybody says and how hard he might try to be.
Sir Gawain is a protagonist or a main hero in the earlier Arthurian legends, but he is often included in later stories of the fifteenth century as a confidant or a secondary character.
In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight written by an anonymous author, we are given a description of Sir Gawain's appearance, as he is preparing to go on a quest to find the Green Knight and complete the yearlong beheading game (Norton, 215).
Yet even this most civilized character has a bit of the animal within him. The poem’s structure, which places scenes of hunting next to those of Gawain’s seduction, encourages us to compare Gawain to the animals Bertilak hunts. And at the end of the poem, when Gawain gives into his survival instinct, he learns that at least a small part of the animal still resides within him. Like the Green Knight / Bertilak, Gawain’s character incorporates both the wild and the civilized into one person. Unlike the Green Knight, however, Gawain only comes to this realization at the end of the tale, allowing the reader to share in his revelation in the process.
After Gawain beheads the Green Knight, he must complete the challenge by seeking out the Green Knightin one year's time and allowing the Green Knight to chop off his head.
The poem begins with a history of famous founders of countries out of Greek and Roman myth, and explicitly connects and compares to those heroes. In doing so, the poem establishes the theme of reputation and begins to explore its impact on those who achieve it. For Gawain, when he takes his king’s place and faces The Green Knight, he suddenly transforms himself in the eyes of the court from one of the…
In the texts of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell," Gawain is portrayed as a hero who exemplifies the characteristics of an honorable knight.