Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Pearl-Poet

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What are the temptations of Sir Gawain in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"?

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Hillard Thiel eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In addition to the obvious temptations in Berkilak's castle with his wife (all of which involve erotic temptation and the temptation to violate hospitality for personal pleasure), more significant spiritual temptations frame this story. First, Gawain displays an element of pride when he agrees to participate in the initial contest. While Arthur is more to blame and Gawain offers to take his place, it certainly is not prudent to participate in this contest with a character whose appearance suggests that he is not a normal, mortal man. The first part of this bargain therefore involves the temptation of pride.

Later, the temptation that most condemns Gawain is the desire to continue living even if one will live a life compromised by deceit. While it is understandable that Gawain would hide the garter and flinch at the blow of an ax, the temptation to focus on his mortal rather than his spiritual life is the cause of his wearing the garter as a mark of shame.

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In Sir Gawain and the Green...

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