Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

September 2003

Final Essay

In the days of knights, kings, and heroic epics, circumcision was not done for sanitary means as is often the case today. Being circumcised was something of a rebirth. It was done when it was realized that one was a sinner and it was promised that they would reform under the grace of God. Sir Gawain was on a mission upon entering the green chapel; he sought to become the next Fisher King. King Arthur became a Fisher King and Jesus was the original Fisher King. In the ensuing confrontation in the green chapel, we then discover Sir Gawain’ s error; he is simply a mortal man.

In meeting the knight in the chapel, Gawain was supposed to be invulnerable. The fact that he flinched when he was swung at, shows his unnecessary fear. He should have trusted in the power of the girdle. In scriptures read from the bible, it is known that Jesus was not a fearful man. It can also be said that Jesus was not a normal human man. When he was faced with three temptations, he did not succumb. Gawain, too, faced three temptations. While he did not indulge either, resisting one enticement, he committed a sin. In turning away the host’s wife, he avoided lust and adultery. But his reasons were a sin. He did not care to copulate with the host’s wife simply because he worried what it would do to his knightly reputation. Jesus died for the sins of others and did not flinch upon being nailed to a cross for faults not his own. Gawain was meant to bleed for his very own sins and he flinched. He feared death, which mortal man is commonly guilty of.

Though Gawain was meant to become a Fisher King, he failed, showing that he was human and made errors. The flowing of his blood on January first, signifies the cleansing of his soul. The blood shed was for the lie told on the third day. Having paid for that sin on the third blow made him a forgiven man.

When Gawain faced the knight in the green chapel, he too came to a realization. After being swung at twice and finally struck on the third swing, he understood. He knew that he was made to bleed with the third blow because on the third day in the company of his host, he bore no gifts as per their agreement. He came bringing only Judas kisses. The chapel was much like a barrow. Sir Gawain entered it knowing full well that he was to face the knight. One cannot help but assume that his intentions were to receive forgiveness.