Gentlemen Are Not the New Knights
- Pages: 6
- Word count: 1369
- Category: Bravery
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Arguably the most influential virtue of the medieval era, chivalry once dominated the European world as all people sought lived in accordance with it. Manifested in the literature of the time, medieval chivalry encompassed a sense of honor, dignity, courage, and bravery. Though some of its elements endure today, chivalry was never resurrected after the medieval period to the grandeur that it once embodied. Its presence in modern times has dwindled due to the amount of change in various realms of society. The existence of chivalry in contemporary society has been extinguished due to the amount of change in lifestyle, civics, and moral values since medieval times.
Ways of life have greatly changed since the medieval era, chiefly due to the shift on the focal point of individuals, which has turned away from the duty of chivalry. One of the necessary components of medieval chivalry was the dedication to the chivalric way of life. Knights were the exemplary figures of this lifestyle, completing tasks such as battling rivals, saving damsels, and performing heroic quests. Their commitment to chivalry was sustainable partly due to the lack of other engagements to pursue. Nowadays, people lead busy lives that require attributes other than chivalry; individuals have numerous occupations, such as demanding jobs, family life, school, and additional hobbies. Also, because the constant fear of death is now nonexistent, modern people have replaced this angst with busy days of work, family time, and a medieval luxury, leisure. The need for chivalric service has been replaced by the need to provide for oneself or one’s family. Individuals also currently carry a greater focus on their own lives rather than the lives of all within their kingdom, as shown by the familial bonds of today and lack of knights or noblemen. Furthermore, the importance of loyalty to one’s kingdom has been erased, as monarchies have been replaced by governing bodies that have reputations nowhere near the god-like, divine kingdoms of the medieval period. Finally, the interpretation of chivalry itself is radically different from the meaning it once held. In medieval times, chivalry was a code of honor, the fulfillment of being brave, dutiful, honored, and courageous. Not only was it a highly praised value, it was a lifestyle that many lived by. In modern times, it is clear to see that chivalry does not exist in this form. Chivalric tasks do not occur; rather, chivalry has been buried under the exhaustive lives that modern people live.
Civics, encompassing leaders, citizens, and politics has played a large role in chivalric acts since medieval times; yet, it has altered the meaning of chivalry. The leaders of contemporary society, though they hold very important positions, are not seen as the god-like rulers of the medieval period. During that era, monarchs, such as King Arthur, were deemed the utmost divine being on earth, and were praised by the people under their ruling. These monarchs wielded ultimate power and demonstrated active chivalry, whether they were a figure of bravery or if they had many knights serving them. Currently, the presidents and other leaders within society do not possess as many people working for them who show the utmost respect, honor, or willingness that knights once displayed. Another component of the power wielded by current leaders is the values that they praise. Most leaders of today seek the well-being of their citizens, as well as power within their position to administer needs that they see fit. This was, indeed, also prevalent in medieval society; however, rulers also equally valued chivalric traits such as heroism, dignity, honor, and courteousness. These values are not sought after nearly as much by people in power today, demonstrating a lack of the importance of chivalry. Additionally, a cause of the decrease of chivalry is the scarcity of violent danger. Life in medieval times was ridden with dangerous battles or violent outbursts, posing a threat to the common folk. Knights were ideal for putting a halt to these kinds of events, and were fiercely committed to their mission. Nowadays violent outbursts are more scarce, yet they do occur, but we have policemen and firemen to help citizens and stop initiators of violence. Though these groups of people show bravery, selflessness, and courage, their acts do not compare to those of knights as knights performed chivalry in every aspect in their lives, including love and serving their monarch, whereas police and firemen only show chivalry through their job, not in courtly love, religion, or dedication to a leader. Regarding the actions of knights, a common occurrence was the completion of a quest: seeking the answer to a burdening question. In modern times, quests still exist, yet they are significantly less lofty, and they seek to answer questions that are rational and specific to the individual. Many deal with advice about a relationship, or how to deal with a certain circumstance, and are solved through reliable resources rather than actual journeys. Because these quests do not show the bravery, courtesy, or nobility an individual, they show the lack of chivalry in journeys to answer questions and find oneself.
The appraisal of certain values and altering of norms in modern society have replaced the chivalry and the magnitude it once embodied. A specific reason as to why chivalry has diminished is the promotion of other principles. It is undeniable that traits such as wealth, popularity, and power determine the people who reside within the top class of current society. This is a stark contrast to the people were viewed as role models within the medieval era. Those who displayed a true sense of honor, obtained by means of duty, intelligence, and earnesty of were able to become the role models in society. Values that praise other types of behavior rather than true dedication and honor have fully replaced chivalry in modern society. An additional piece of chivalry that does not exist today is the medieval encouragement of violence and rivalry. Competition between kingdoms was common between in the middle ages, such as the tales of King Arthur’s knights fighting for their monarchy. These dangerous customs are no longer in practice today, as modern leaders do not support juvenile violence spurred by a simple rivalry. An additional reason as to why chivalry does not exist anymore is the way it is interpreted nowadays. Because knights are no more, modern gentlemen have seemingly taken their place.
However, this new age gentleman is not the equivalent of a medieval knight, as they do not demonstrate unwavering courage, selflessness, dedication, and heroism of the ancient knight. The chivalry displayed by knights is incomparable to the simple kindness and compassion shown by contemporary gentlemen. Finally, one of the largest reasons for the death of chivalry is the new image of women. In medieval times, women were seen plainly as objects to be won, and given little to no rights or opportunities. Without a true identity or status, women were commonly seen as victims or naive children, needing guidance, assistance, and purpose. Many knights went on quests to save damsels, or even used women for their own motive, such as the knight in the tale of the Woman of Bath. Nowadays, women have amassed immense power within society, and have completely broken the medieval stereotype which they were once forced to bow under. Examples include women running for office, serving in the military, and holding important jobs. Because women are now viewed much more as equals, not objects, chivalric duty to ‘rescue’ them has gone away, as well as the overwhelming sense of superiority of men over women.
The supremacy of chivalry in the medieval period is unmatched today due to the altering of lifestyle, civics, and morals within modern society. Though it can be argued that chivalry does exist today, the lack of devout dedication of individuals to all the components that chivalry possesses shows how it is not present. In essence, medieval chivalry was a way of life rather than simply a characteristic. Its resuscitation is highly unlikely, considering it has been lost for generations. Because society has continually buried chivalry over generations, hope for its resuscitation is, much to the chagrin of medieval knights, inconceivable.