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Arthur had many qualities that made his subjects love him, but in this story, the qualities that stand out are courage, hospitality, and religious devotion. A good king back in Arthur’s day had to possess all these qualities. Arthur showed courage when the Green Knight issued the challenge and the other knights, afraid of the magic the Green Knight possessed, refused to accept his challenge. It is at this point that Arthur stands up and says: “Sir now we see you will say but folly/Which whoso has sought, it suits that he find/No guest here is aghast of your great words/Give to me your gisarme, in God’s own name/And the boon you have begged shall straight be granted.” His knights may be afraid, but Arthur is not.
Hospitality was an important quality of a king in Arthur’s time. When the Green Knight first enters, Arthur shows him hospitality by telling him to stay and feast with them. “Fellow in faith, you have found fair welcome/The head of this hostelry Arthur am I/Leap lightly down and linger, I pray.” The Green Knight might have been a little intimidating to Arthur, but Arthur was a good king, and he offered the Green Knight his hospitality before he even knew the intent of the Green Knight’s visit.
Arthur also showed the religious values so important to the early Christians who would have heard the legendary tale of the Knights of the Round Table. After Gawain offers to take Arthur’s place, he asks for Arthur’s blessing. Arthur gives it readily, “ …and gives him God’s blessing and graciously prays/that his heart and his hand may be hardy both.” Part of the character of a chivalrous man was loyalty to God and to the church, so Arthur prays for the Gawain, who is brave enough to step forward when no one else would.
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