Another test that he passed was of faithfulness, which he passed and failed at the same time. The Lord’s wife won over him by making him accept a girdle owned by her, as it would prevent him from dieing. Sir Gawain accepts the girdle in exchange of the pentangle which basically alerts us of the short-sightedness of Gawain. Here his honesty was put to the test and this was tested by the exchange of winnings with the Lord. Here it is said that “virtue is best kept keen through tests both won and failed, as a failed test brings on divine punishment, and divine punishment serves as penance and stirs the sinner to realization and confession of his sins.
This is evidenced by the fact that the Green Knight urges Sir Gawain to keep the green girdle through which he had sinned. As a reminder of his failure it will keep him far from sin in the future” (Human Heroes in Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Faerie Queen, p.1). No matter what the explanation, one here cannot deny that Gawain broke his promise of remaining pure of mind and honest. Another aspect is that acceptance of the girdle involves self-interest, but still he remains chaste (Weston, p.1). One other attraction in accepting the girdle is the perseverance of his honor. By accepting the girdle, he was ensuring his life long enough to reach the Green Knight, which would then bring more honor to Sir Gawain. A knight so brave and chaste throughout the story falls short and fails when it comes to a very common weakness of the knights: the greed for more and more honor. It can be said, that even though Gawain had set out to die in honor, when he received a chance to fulfill a challenge yet stay alive, he chose being honored more by staying alive.
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