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Growth and Development of the Main Character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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The mid to late 14th century fable, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by Greg Chaucer, illustrates the development and growth of the main character, Sir Gawain. In the fable, Sir Gawain voluntarily takes the place for his king when it was believed the king would face death. The story starts with a mysterious Green Knight and his horse galloping into the court, challenging any person to a game. A “lucky” contestant is given one chance use an ax against the Green Knight. If the Knight survived, exactly one year later he will do the same to the contestant from the year before. By accepting his fate, showing bravery, and learning from his mistakes, Sir Gawain manages to gain experience in his growth and maturity. After the game had been announced and a few moments of silence later, the Green Knight breaks through the reticence by mocking the other knights, calling them “bearded children” (57), meaning they are weak and cowardly. Subsequently, the righteous King Arthur agrees to face this challenge, and before he can continue on with his choice, noble Sir Gawain easily takes his place. Arthur’s life is more precious than his, so to portray his courage, he steps forward. This is the first act of bravery emitted from Gawain, and he does so without hesitation. A quick movement of blade, and the Green Knight’s head is cleanly removed off his shoulders. To the crowds surprise, the green man does survive, and the he stands and displays his head like a trophy. Gawain is aware of the consequence for complying to this game; he must face the Green Knight exactly one year from the day, to accept his destiny that lie ahead. Within this text, we can see Gawain’s first act of gallantry, and his compliance to the deal he had made. Already, he is starting to mature and find that in order to be a faithful knight, he must follow through with his choices. This experience would demonstrate

The mid to late 14th century fable, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by Greg Chaucer, illustrates the development and growth of the main character, Sir Gawain. In the fable, Sir Gawain voluntarily takes the place for his king when it was believed the king would face death. The story starts with a mysterious Green Knight and his horse galloping into the court, challenging any person to a game. A “lucky” contestant is given one chance use an ax against the Green Knight. If the Knight survived, exactly one year later he will do the same to the contestant from the year before. By accepting his fate, showing bravery, and learning from his mistakes, Sir Gawain manages to gain experience in his growth and maturity.

After the game had been announced and a few moments of silence later, the Green Knight breaks through the reticence by mocking the other knights, calling them “bearded children” (57), meaning they are weak and cowardly. Subsequently, the righteous King Arthur agrees to face this challenge, and before he can continue on with his choice, noble Sir Gawain easily takes his place. Arthur’s life is more precious than his, so to portray his courage, he steps forward. This is the first act of bravery emitted from Gawain, and he does so without hesitation. A quick movement of blade, and the Green Knight’s head is cleanly removed off his shoulders. To the crowds surprise, the green man does survive, and the he stands and displays his head like a trophy. Gawain is aware of the consequence for complying to this game; he must face the Green Knight exactly one year from the day, to accept his destiny that lie ahead. Within this text, we can see Gawain’s first act of gallantry, and his compliance to the deal he had made. Already, he is starting to mature and find that in order to be a faithful knight, he must follow through with his choices. This experience would demonstrate that his actions had consequences, and he must do the right thing and accept them.

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Next, we see Sir Gawain’s growth and maturity by his decision to make the journey, face his fate, and join the Green Knight. A year prior, the Green Knight had explained to him that he must venture to a Green Chapel, hidden inside of the woods, where he would allow one hit from the green man. The Green Knight had declared to him before, “The Knight of the Green Chapel, I am well-known to many, Wherefore you cannot fail to find me at last; Therefore come, or be counted a recreant knight” (224-226). Sir Gawain, not taking this lightly, starts his journey eleven months later. From this, it is clear that Sir Gawain showed courage and did not take the title as a ‘coward’. He exhibits his maturity by following through with his actions, and not backing down from danger when it is present. He knew he had to face his fate, so he would do it audaciously.

Lastly, we see Gawain reach his final point of growth by the acknowledgment of his decisions. His endeavor to the Green Chapel led him to a castle, where a man and his wife offered to house him for three nights. During these nights, the man, Bersalek, tells Gawain that he must give him whatever he receives during his stay. For the duration of his stop, he acquires kisses on the cheek from Bersalek’s wife, and so after dinner Gawain gives kisses on the cheek to Bersalek. On his final night, the wife gives Gawain a green girdle, meant to keep him safe from harm while he accepts the hit from the Green Knight the next day. At dinner, Gawain does not give Bersalek the girdle, and did not follow through with his promise to give him what he received. The next day, when Gawain meets the Green Knight at the Chapel, he still has the girdle with him. The Green Knight, taunting Gawain for flinching when he takes a swing, finally slightly scrapes his neck, and Gawain jumps back. The Green Knight then exclaims that he was Bersalek and he gave him the girdle. He told him that Gawain did not keep his promise, and was unfaithful because he was selfish and kept the girdle so he would not be killed. Gawain, feeling very regretful for his actions, apologizes to the large, green man. With this, the Green Knight can see the sorrow of the ashamed knight, and he forgives him. Displayed in the text, Sir Gawain reached maturity by facing his mistake and feeling disappointed in himself. He made a wrong decision when being selfish and keeping his safety, when he should’ve been brave and kept his word with Bersalek.

Within the tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the main character, Sir Gawain, deals with the choices he made and faced the consequences of his actions. Gawain begins a knight in King Arthur’s castle, and through his adventure he changes to a courageous man in the end. He confronted his demise by meeting the Green Knight and expecting to meet his end. By accepting his fate, showing bravery, and learning from his mistakes, Sir Gawain manages to gain experience in his growth and maturity.

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Growth and Development of the Main Character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/growth-and-development-of-the-main-character-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/
“Growth and Development of the Main Character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/growth-and-development-of-the-main-character-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/
Growth and Development of the Main Character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/growth-and-development-of-the-main-character-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2022].
Growth and Development of the Main Character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/growth-and-development-of-the-main-character-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/
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