24 Ms.BenzLitand Comp29January 2018 With age comes life experiences thatchange us for better or for worse. Through these experiences people have thechance to better themselves by making the right decision, or chose the wrongdecision and suffer the consequences that ensue.
In “Torre and Pellinore,” bySir Thomas Malory, and Sir Gawain and theGreen Knight, by the Gawain Poet, Gawain is very different. In bothstories, Gawain shows changes that he has undergone, as well as new traits thathe has developed as a result of experiences, which better him for future undertakings. In Malory’s story “Torre andPellinore,” Gawain is young and full of ignorance, while in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight hedisplays a much more prudent and wise demeanor. Gawain, shortly after beingdubbed a knight of the round table, is very excited and full of confidence. Asa result of the excitement Gawain possesses regarding his first quest, he is veryquick to make decisions.
The quick judgment seems to be because he is soprideful of becoming one of the newest members of the round table. One instancewhen he shows a lack of judgement and poor use of quick thinking is when Gawainstruck a knight to the ground, and “was poised to behead him when the knight’slady appeared and threw herself between them. Unable to restrain the blow, SirGawain beheaded the lady” (45). After this incident, Gawain in a way loses someof his pride because he knows what he did was wrong and a clear violation ofthe code of chivalry, no matter his intent. Later, as Gawain and Gaheris weresettle in for the night, Gawain once again makes a mistake by “disarming”,even though they were likely to be attacked (46). Sure enough, “four knights infull armor rushed into the hall and attacked them” (46). The knights point outthat Gawain, “a newly made knight, had already dishonored the order of theknighthood by killing a lady” (46).
The Gawain that’s depicted throughout Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, varies significantlyfrom Malory’s Gawain. Gawain in SirGawain and the Green Knight, is much wiser, and he showcases a strongunderstanding of the code of chivalry and how to live it out. This will be seenin a variety of circumstances where the aged Gawain handles circumstances witha drastically different demeanor. Despite the two different characters beingvery different in nature, they do have many similarities as well.
When theGreen Knight comes to Camelot, and asks, If any in this household is so hardy inspirit, ofsuch mettlesome mind and so madly rash As to strike a strong blow in return foranother, I shall offer to him this fine axe freely…So long as I shall have leave to launch areturn blow Unchecked. (31-32).
KingArthur is forced to step up because no one else is brave enough. Gawainrealizes what could ensue if the king takes this challenge, so he asks if hecan take the king’s place for the challenge. His reasoning for doing this isthat if his “life, if lost, would be least missed, truly” (34). In thisinstance, Gawain displays courage, and defense. Gawain holds true to hispromise, and on All Saints Day, he sets out in search for the Green Knight.
Gawain travels for many days until he reaches a castle, and is granted stay init for however long he needs. During his stay at the castle, Gawain and theCastellan make a deal: “whatever I win in the woods be yours, / And anyachievement you chance on here, you exchange for it” (62). While the Castellanis hunting the first couple days, his wife tries to seduce Gawain. Gawainidentified her intent, and resisted. However, the Lady makes him feel guilty bysaying, “Such a great man as Gawain is granted to be, / The very vessel ofvirtue and fine courtesy, / Could scarcely have stayed such a sojourn with alady / Without craving a kiss out of courtesy” (70). Gawain responds by saying,”So be it, as you say, / I shall kiss at your command, as becomes a knight / Whofears to offend you; no further plea is necessary” (70). Even though Gawainkisses the Castellans wife, he kisses her out of courtesy, so that she will notbe distraught. When the Castellan arrives home from his hunt, he presentsGawain his catch, and Gawain proves true to their bargain by “kissing him inthe comeliest way he could think of” (73).
This occurs the next time theCastellan goes on a hunt as well; the Castellan offers Gawain his yield, andGawain kisses him twice, however. On the third day, Gawain gives into thewoman. He does this by accepting a belt of green that makes the person whowears it immortal despite the wife’s condition that he cannot tell theCastellan of this, which goes against the deal they made. When the Castellanarrives, Gawain broke the deal, and didn’t tell the Castellan of the belt hereceived.
Even though Gawain let his greed get to him in this one instance, hestill has a strong regard for Chivalry which he showcases in many ways, such asattending daily masses and praying frequently. These depictions of Gawain aredifferent in the way they approach everything. The older Gawain is much morethoughtful with his decision making. For example, the younger Gawain would havemost likely given into the wife of the Castellan and her attempts at seducinghim.
They are also very similar though. Both show that they are human by makingmistakes, and they both show a large amount of nobility. In Malory’s story, “Torre andPellinore,” the challenges presented to Gawain are much more physical innature, while in Sir Gawain and the GreenKnight, the challenges he faces are much more mental. Throughout “Torre andPellinore,” Gawain experiences many challenges that test his youthful strengthand physical abilities. On top of this, Gawain’s solution for everything seemsto be fighting, no matter the circumstance. On multiple occasions, Gawain facesa decision to spare a knight’s life, but he ultimately kills them in bothsituations. By doing this Gawain clearly violates the code of Chivalry, and thequeen even, “rebuked him sternly, commanding that henceforth he should alwaysspare those who begged for mercy” (47). In one of these situations, Gawain isso careless in expressing his physical dominance, that he is, “Unable torestrain his blow,” and in turn, “beheaded the lady” (45).
The queen alsoscolds him for this saying he should, “always put the service of ladiesforemost’ (47). These two situations show how Gawain lacks the mental aptitudeto make right decisions early on in his knighthood. Gawain does however, showgrowth mentally, with experience and age.
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Gawain faces many challenges thattest him mentally. During Gawain’s stay at the castle, Gawain experienced manytemptations from the wife. Gawain stays true to himself, and only gives her akiss because he, “fears to offend,” her (70). Gawain also, stays true to hisbargain, and kissed the Castellan. However, the temptations proves too much forGawain to endure when the lady offered him a, “belt of green,” that, “As longas he laps it closely about him, / No hero under heaven can hack him intopieces” (90). Gawain envied the thought of being immortal, considering thedaunting task that lay ahead for him.
The lady told him that he must, “hide itfrom her husband with all diligence,” which Gawain knew was wrong. Gawain inturn, kept the belt clandestine. The last challenge Gawain faces is the GreenKnight. “Head bent, Sir Gawain bowed, / And showed the bright flesh bare…Thenthe gallant in green…Heaved his horrid weapon on high to hit Gawain” (105).
Inthis instance, it appears that Gawain faces a physical challenge, but this isquite the opposite considering Gawain kneels down believing that his ultimatedemise is only seconds away. This is where Gawain falters by, “glancing up atthe grim axe beside him / As it came shooting through the shivering air toshatter him” (105). He lacks the courage, that all knights should have,especially him considering his high status as a knight.
Throughout Malory’s”Torre and Pellinore,” and the Gawain Poet’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain experiences a variety ofchallenges. Some of these challenges are similar and involve physicalattributes. Some are vastly different in the way that they can be solved. Thisis where the two depictions are most different. Malory’s Gawain does notpossess the wisdom and mental capacity to deal with complex situations, whereasthe Gawain Poet’s depiction of Gawain uses his wisdom as much, if not more sothan his physical qualities. Over both Malory’s, “Torre andPellinore,” and the Gawain Poet’s SirGawain and the Green Knight, the changes that transpire in Gawain, show howhe matures from a young knight, to becoming the golden standard among knights’.
This type of change can be seen in today’s society, as well. It is seen as ayoung boy or girl, who can’t think for themselves, grows and develops into aresponsible young adult who is much abler to make decisions. This is importantbecause it shows that despite one’s immaturity at a young age, throughexperience people become more mature and able to tackle future endeavors.