To Err is Human..
Courtesy and politeness are believed to be an external manifestation of an inherent goodness in a human. What is sometimes forgotten however is that with being human also comes the probability of error. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poems protagonist Sir Gawain is known to be the epitome of the perfect knight. What keeps him connected to humanity is his concern for his own life over his need to be a faultless knight. His error in judgment does not prove that his actions are merely a mask for ruthless or manipulative behavior, but that he is an honorable person who is not exempt from human error. His inherent goodness can be seen through his chivalrous actions and his ability to be humble and show humility when the moment calls for it.
Sir Gawain is the leading exemplar of a Knight. He possesses all five points of chivalry which shows a clear correlation to an inherent goodness. He is the ideal feudal knight and expels courage, courtesy, loyalty, integrity, and most importantly humility. These qualities are shown all throughout the poem and is evidence of an inherent goodness in a human. In part one The Green Knight is introduced and challenges the King’s court, specifically King Arthur, to a beheading game. No other knight steps forward to accept the Green Knight’s challenge, leaving Arthur to take lead. Gawain sits by the King and any knight in that position is evidently a great knight. He however is loyal to his King and does not let Arthur continue. Alternately, Gawain steps forward and convinces Arthur he is weak and that the loss of his life would not be detrimental to the court.
For I find it not fit, as in faith it is know,
when such a boon is begged before all these knights,
Though you be tempted thereto, to take it on yourself
While so bold men about upon benches sit.
That no host under heaven is hardier of will,
Nor better brothers-in-arms where battle is joined;
I am the weakest, well I know, and of wit...