Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Respect and Reputation Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Therefore it suits this knight and his shining arms,
For always faithful in five ways, and five times in each case,
Gawain was reputed as virtuous, like refined gold,
Devoid of all vice, and with all courtly virtues
(631 - 635)
Once again, the narrator makes use of a well-placed "everybody thinks so" to back up what he’s asserting. Rather than simply saying Gawain is virtuous, our narrator tells us he was "reputed" to be so. This means that not just the narrator, but everybody who knew of Gawain, knew him to be virtuous.
When the lord of the castle heard who was his guest,
He laughed loudly at the news, so deeply was he pleased;
And all the men in the castle were overjoyed
To make the acquaintance quickly then
Of the man to whom all excellence and valour belongs,
Whose refined manners are everywhere praised,
And whose fame exceeds every other person’s on earth.
(908 - 914)
Gawain’s reputation has definitely preceded him to Lord Bertilak’s court. This is a reputation not only for knightly prowess (excellence and valour), but also for courtoisie (refined manners). Being the "man most praised on earth" for valor and good manners is certainly a heavy weight to carry, and it’s an identity that will catch up with Gawain later on, in the seduction scenes.
"Truly, God has been gracious to us indeed,
In allowing us to receive such a guest as Gawain,
Whose birth men will happily sit down and celebrate
In knowledge of fine manners
This man has expertise;
I think that those who hear him,
Will learn what love-talk is."
(920 - 927)
The court of Lord Bertilak praises Gawain not only by remarking upon his excellent reputation, but also by suggesting that this reputation will only grow in time - that "men will happily sit down and celebrate" his birth "in song." Interestingly, it’s Gawain’s reputed skill at "love-talk" about which everyone is most excited, rather than his reputation as a skilled knight.