Chivalry is dead, or so we often hear. Chivalry originated in the medieval times as a way to differentiate the knights from the common folk in society. Today, the definition and applications of chivalry have drastically changed, leaving CHS students to wonder if chivalry is still alive.
Kimeran Kimble, CHS sophomore, believes that chivalry is still alive, but “it’s just a lot different.”
Since we no longer have knights fighting for their Christian values within the feudal system, the definition of chivalry has been narrowed down to only include basic courteous behaviors and has become a recommended code for men.
Today, the most common place to see chivalrous behavior is between romantic partners — yet it’s not even found in every relationship.
Kimble thinks that you see a lot more examples of non-chivalrous behavior these days, but, every now and then, you do see people honor chivalry by giving flowers or gifts to another. Furthermore, she thinks that chivalry has changed from proper manners to gift giving because of the materialistic focus of modern society.
In medieval society, the feudal system created a rigid structure that determined people’s place in society; this contrasts with modern society where we have the power to determine our place. The development of capitalism has placed emphasis on the importance of making money that you can then use to buy status symbols. By giving gifts to people, you are presenting them with a just that — symbol of your status.
The increased social mobility has brought in more room for competition within our society to pass our peers on the social hierarchy by having more materialistic demonstrations of wealth and prosperity. This makes it evident that the structure of society is built off a foundation of materialism.
Chivalry has continued to evolve through the feminist movement. The feminist movement allowed women to voice their opinions, and some women shared that what traditional chivalry classified as manners, such as holding the door open, can be more patronizing than endearing. Some say, chivalry should be less about protecting women and more about supporting women. Chivalrous behavior should be used to show respect and caring and not be used as an assertion of male power and superiority.
Although the meaning of chivalry has changed over time, there have been various efforts to keep it alive. Couples express acts of thoughtfulness for each other on Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and throughout everyday life. The connections between people — especially love for each other — has kept chivalry alive to this day. Chivalry is an important part of our society and one that is vital to preserve.
Illustration by Ryx Zan