Regardless of the position in authority a person may have or how wise a person may consider himself, a Divine presence is inevitable in order for one to succeed. Sir Gawain and Everyman (translated by Burton Raffel) both took place during the Medieval Era, where these ideals were prevalent. Throughout both texts the main characters face issues that provide them understanding of how tremendous Gods’ blessing is when one humbles themselves before Him. The authors of both texts create a Biblical argument of how significant it is to humble oneself, even if it may translate into humiliation.
Sir Gawain and Everyman both had to “resist the devil, [in order for] him [to] flee from [them]” (James 4:7-10). Sir Gawain, the brave knight, was frightened when he arrived at the “ugly and gruesome [chapel]” (Sir Gawain 31), it was a place in which “the devils of hell could pray their prayers quite well” (Sir Gawain 27-28). Sir Gawain understood that it was “Satan who struck [him] with [that] meeting […] [and] he sent [him there] to destroy [him]” (Sir Gawain 34-35).
He knew that the devil had the capacity to destroy him and at that moment he knew that he was required to resist any offers the devil had in order for him to leave. The devil is not only present in dark and negative locations but also in ones daily basis, and that is how he was able to tempt Everyman. When God sent Death to Everyman he said “O Death, thou comest when I had the least in mind! In thy power it lieth me to save. Yet of my good will I give thee, if thou will be kind […] and defer this matter till another day” (Everyman 97-101).
The devil was capable of blinding Everyman to the point in which he chose materials over obeying God and his choice of sending Death to him. Different from Sir Gawain, Everyman was required to learn the difficult way that he must have resisted the devil in order for him to leave and Gods’ blessing take charge into his life. The devil presented himself tempting Sir Gawain and Everyman in every way, but when they chose to “submit [themselves], then, to God” He provided everything they needed. Sir Gawain was in a tough position when he had to allow the Green knight to cut his head off.
Sir Gawain claimed Gods’ named and said to the Green knight “may the Holy Ghost grant me the power to begrudge you nothing. Keep to the bargain, swing just once, and I’ll stand still, and you’ll do exactly as you please” (Sir Gawain 91-95). He knew he needed God, and also knew that he was not capable of going through that situation alone. Everyman, like Sir Gawain, also submitted himself to God. After Death appeared to him, Everyman also choose to seek God and asked him “O gracious God, in the high seat celestial, have mercy on me in this most need.
Shall I have no company from this vale terrestrial of mine acquaintance that way me to lead? ” (Everyman 130-134). Everyman’s journey was in Gods hand, he knew he needed help that only God would provide. There was nothing he could do at this point, so he had to trust God and hand his problems into his hands and trust that God would take care of everything. “Come near to God, and he will come near to you” (James 4:7-10) throughout both texts it is clear to readers that after Sir Gawain and Everyman chose to be near God, he drew himself closer to them and did nothing but bless them.
After Sir Gawain proclaimed Gods’ name, in the scene in which the Green Knight was going to cut off his head, God added a little twist to what Sir Gawain claimed to be his “fate”. All of a sudden the man who was going to kill him because he stole his wife’s kisses chose to say to him “the damage you did me is cured, it’s gone. […] I hold you cleansed, as pure in heart as if from your birth this day you’d never sinned! ” (Sir Gawain 231-236). It is nearly impossible to be forgiving toward someone who has hurt one, God is the only explanation as to why the Green Knight was so calm and understanding towards Sir Gawain.
Green Knights action is a clear demonstration of God approaching Sir Gawain after he seeked Him. God also became closer to Everyman after he went after Gods presence. Everyman had to go through a difficult journey and Fellowship who was his best friend turned his back on him and at that moment Everyman needed God to send someone to accompany him. God provided Good Deeds to follow Everyman, and Everyman said “Have mercy on me, God most mighty and stand by me, thou mother and maid, holy Mary! (Everyman 443-446) and Good Deeds replied “Fear not: I will speak for thee” (Everyman 447). Like Sir Gawain, God approached himself to those who seek him. In the bible God says to his children “wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-10) and that is something both characters had to learn to do. Sir Gawain proved himself to be a true sinner when he felt into temptation and kissed Green Knights wife. Sir Gawain repented on his actions and confessed “take the faithless thing, may it rot!
Fear of your blow taught me cowardice, brought me to greed, took me from myself and the goodness, the faith, that belong to knighthood. ” (Sir Gawain 220-224). Sir Gawain took responsibility in what he had done, and by doing so he humbled himself before God and submitted himself. Everyman after his journey and going into heaven he also went before the Lord and said “Into thy hands, Lord, My soul I comment. Receive it, Lord, that it be not lost. […] and save me from the fiend’s boast” (Everyman 451-455).
Everyman purified himself and asked God to take away from him all bad, just like he was told to do. Regardless of how big or small an issue may be it is necessary to remind oneself that—God—is there to solve and guide one through it. Sir Gawain and Everyman both needed strength and wisdom in order to deal with certain issues they had to face. Not much different than both characters, humanity starves for strength and wisdom in order to survive daily temptations and issues that the devil brings into one’s life, and strength is needed in order to resist it all.
Humans will continue to commit the same mistakes because it is in their nature, and they will need to continuously seek God in over surpass it all over again.
Bibliography Adventures in English Literature. Ed. Fannier Safier Orlando: Holt, Rinehart & Winston–Harcourt & Brace, 1996. Print. 89-90. Safier, Fannie Ed. Adventures in English Literature. Orlando: Holt Rinehart & Winston—Harcourt & Brace, 1996. Print. 111-120. “James 4:7-10 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – BibleGateway. com. ” BibleGateway. com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 100 Versions and 50 Languages. Web. 01 Oct. 2010.