Chivalry, can be described as the ethic and social regulation and tradition of the noble and royal class in Western Europe in the course of the later Middle Ages, and the results of that regulation and custom in motion.It applies, entirely, to gentlemen only. Its three key elements are war, religion, and the adoration for women: its benefits and faults spring from those three heads, and all the side impacts which go to its development and rot might be summed up under these. The entire obligation of a noble man was included in the idea of chivalry; and his life from his initial youth was managed by it. The guideline of service to God, his ruler, and his woman underlay everything. The concept of the chivalry as the rescuer and protector of his folk have control over the early medieval epics such as The Songs of Roland and Beowulf.
One example is The Songs of Roland. The poem is the first of the great French heroic poems known as “chansons de geste.” The Knights Code of Chivalry was a piece of the way of life of the Medieval times and was comprehended by all. A Code of Chivalry was certificated in The Song of Roland in the Medieval times Knights period of William the Conqueror who ruled England. The ‘Song of Roland’ depicts the eight century Knights of the Dark Ages and the battles fought by the Emperor Charlemagne.
Actually, The “Song of Roland” belongs to a very much more unsophisticated period, when the extreme insecurity of life made martial prowess the most necessary of all manly virtues, and it was every baron’s business to be a tower of strength to the dwellers on his own land. Thus the feudal structure, as it emerged, rather than was deliberately organised, from the prevailing conditions, was that of a society permanently geared to warfare; and its songs and stories are almost all about brave warriors and heroic deeds in battle- not about ladies or enchanters or other-world adventures, like the romances of chivalry which were to take their place.
The opening scenes of the poem are indeed a model of what an exposition should be. The first stanza tells us briefly what the military situation is; the scene of Marsilion’s council gets the action going and shows us that the Saracens are ready for any treacherous business; the great scene of Charlemagne’s council introduces all the chief actors on the Christian side and sketches swiftly and surely the main lines of their characters and the position in which they stand to one another: Charlemagne, at the same time cautious and peremptory; Roland, brave to the point of rashness, provocative, arrogant with the pure egotism of the epic hero, loyal, self-confident, and open as the day; Oliver, equally brave, but prudent and blunt, and well aware of his friend’s weaknesses; Duke Naimon, old and wise in council; Turpin, the fighting archbishop, with his consideration for others and his touch of ironic humour; Ganelon, whose irritable jealousy unchains the whole catastrophe. Ganelon is not a coward, as he proves later on in the poem, and his advice to conclude a peace is backed up by all his colleagues.
The portrait of Charlemagne is partly stylised by a number of legendary and numinous attributes belonging to his status as the sacred Emperor.The holiness of the Imperial function, handed down from Constantine through Justinian to the emperors of the West, hovers about him still. He is of inscrutable age – or rather, he is ageless and timeless, for his son and nephew are both young men: his flowing white beard, his strength unimpaired by “two hundred years and more”, are hieratic and patriarchal in their symbolism; he is God’s vicegerent, the father of all.
In medieval utilize, romance alluded to episodic poetry concerning with chivalry and the knight’s gallantries in a battle field as they guard and save appropriate women and withstand to supernatural challenges. The medieval metrical romances have resemblance to epics. However, medieval romances represents not a heroic age of tribal wars, yet a courtly or chivalric period of history including extremely advanced styles and gentility. Their standard plot includes a solitary knight looking to win a contemptuous woman’s favor by undertaking a hazardous mission. Along the way, this knight experiences mysterious hermits, confronts evil black guards and brigands, kills beasts and dragons, contends anonymously in competitions, and suffers from wounds, starvation, hardship, and exposure in the wilderness. The stories, frequently about faithful lovers separated and inosculated after dangerous journeys. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is inscribed in a manner parallel to the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. King Arthur included the components of love, mystery, gallantry, and psychology that have now come to be associated with romance.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is about a story that include a beheading game. Sir Gawain is Arthur’s knight and he accepts the challenge from the Green Knight for an exchange of blows. Gawain can strike him with his axe if he is prepared to accept a blow in return in one year’s time. Gawain strikes off the Green Knight’s head, but in true fairy-tale fashion, the Green Knight picks up his head and, before he leaves, reminds Gawain to remember the appointment. Through symbol on the one hand and structure on the other, the poem dramatizes Gawain’s journey and the choices he must make en route. The idea of death, in fact, becomes a metaphor. “Death” in the poem involves a loss, but not a physical loss. It is a dying to one kind of life (material), and the rebirth to another (spiritual). Consequently, within the poem, one never expects a “physical” death. Nevertheless, one does anticipate a loss which is somehow reated to the concept of the game . Since Gawain is the chief player, he is the one who loses something. The idea of losing one’s life to find it is, in a religious sense, the main theme cf Christianity.
Arthur’s is a Christian court; thus, it is appropriate to find the basic tenets of the Christmas story enacted in Gawain’s adventure. Because of his pride, Gawain is made to realize his human imperfection after a series of tests in which he loses a false concepticn of himself and finds the promise of redemption through humility . Gawain’s physical journey from Arthur’s court to Bercilak’s castle is real. But concomitant with the physical journey is the spiritual one. Thus, the journey can be seen on two levels: one adventurous and fanciful; the other somber and serious.
Sir Gawain is looking for a shelter because of a long quest in Sir Bertilak de Hautdesert’s stronghold. For the three days Gawain stays in the castle. Incidentally ,Sir Bertilak was about to go hunting and he suggested a deal with Gawain. In the afternoon they will exchange their winnings of the day. While Sir Bertilak is not at the castle, Sir Gawain got a visit by the lady of the house in his bedroom, where she makes an effort to provoke him. However, Sir Gawain stands out against her corrupting attempts. On The Exchange was a single kiss on the first day In the evening, Sir Bertilak brings home a deer, which he giveaways to Sir Gawain. He gets a kiss in return from Gawain but Gawain doesn’t unclose how he acquired the kiss, because that was not part of the suggestion. Last day, eventually, the woman impels her attempts once again but finally accepts defeat, except that besides to 3 kisses she also gives Sir Gawain a girdle of green and gold silk, which, as she provides him, will protect his life as long as he keeps it secret.
His shield and the girdle “initiate two sequences which form a major structural parallel in ths poem. The shield reminds us of spirituality while the girdle calls to mind the things of the flesh. The shield and the girdle are symbolic of Gawain’s moral dilemma. The shield evokes the chivalric ideal. As a wordly object, it reminds the knight of his duty to his lord. Gawain’s shield also carries on it the portrait of Mary. Since it also carries potrait of Mary, it serves to remind him of his duty to God.
The narrative in general is an account of a serious test of Sir Gawain’s chivalry, loyalty, and honour. First of all, having accepted the Green Knight’s challenge, he is faced with a serious dilemma. If he backs out, he loses his honour, and if he does not, he is certain he will lose his life. And within this test he is faced with an almost equally serious dilemma, the lady’s seductive advances. If he gives in to her seduction, he loses his honour, and if he does not, he is discourteous towards his hostess.
For Gawain the girdle points out his recently explored awareness of his human weakness. For those at Camelot, the girdle is an ornament of honor. So although Gawain goes back to Camelot, he no longer ”belongs” there in the sense that he once did. His journey into him self has made him a better man, even for his deficiency. Moreover, it is in coming to terms with his weakness that he comes closer to the ideal of perfection and puts away his false vanity. Imperfection has showed him that true excellence is not within man’s grasp. It is only in the struggle toward an unreachable ideal that, as Christian man, he can become not Christ, but Christ-like.