Gawain, Sir (gäˈwān, –wĭn) [key], one of the most popular heroes of Arthurian legend; nephew of King Arthur. He was regarded, particularly in the early romances, as the model of chivalry—pure, brave, and courteous. In later romances, when spiritual purity was valued more than chivalrous deeds, his character deteriorated, becoming treacherous and brutal. Gawain is most famous as the hero of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (see Pearl, The).
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