The moral, I suppose, would be that the first requirements for a heroic career are the knightly virtues of loyalty, temperance, and courage. The loyalty in this case is of two degrees or commitments: first, to the chosen adventure, but then, also, to the ideals of the order of knighthood. Now, this second commitment seems to put Gawain's way in opposition to the way of the Buddha, who when ordered by the Lord of Duty to perform the social duties proper to his caste, simply ignored the command, and that night achieved illumination as well as release from rebirth. Gawain is a European and, like Odysseus, who remained true to the earth and returned from the Island of the Sun to his marriage with Penelope, he has accepted, as the commitment of his life, not release from but loyalty to the values of life in this world. And yet, as we have just seen, whether following the middle way of the Buddha or the middle way of Gawain, the passage to fulfillment lies between the perils of desire and fear.
Quite possibly one of the most revealing passages about Shakespeare as a man comes from one of the roughest of the jottings made by gossip John Aubrey from his interview with William Beeston, son of the Christopher Beeston who had acted with Shakespeare's company. The partly cancelled note reads: 'the more to be admired, he was not a company keeper. [He].. Wouldn't be debauched, and if invited to, writ [i.e. Wrote] he was in pain.' [Ch.24]