In a dream, a Knight may represent chivalry, courage and honor. In this sense, we find the embodiment of the spiritual warrior, an individual who gathers strength to battle the relentless forces of evil. Therefore, he is able to love and honor a fair maiden, but unable to perform sexual union with the poor girl, (for that base carnal act would prove entirely hypocritical to his true spiritual cause.) Hence, we may be expressing moral and spiritual strength, including chastity, in our dream vision of the mythical Knight. The figure traces a line around our fortitude of spirit.
The ideals of knighthood, chivalry, as an element of universal culture and a type of higher humanity have persisted in literature from the Middle Ages to the present day. These ideals may be summed up as utter devotion to beliefs and undertakings to which the whole life is dedicated.
Knights belonged to the warrior caste. Caesar chose the word eques (horseman or knight) to describe a member of the Celtic warrior class by contrast with the druids, the priestly caste and, conjointly with the latter, by contrast with the mass of the people who had no recognized political, social or religious existence. The choice of word symbolizes precisely the nature, duties and very essence of the military portion of Celtic society, its members corresponding to the Hindu Kshatriyas.
Chivalry gave a particular tone to war, love and death. Love was seen as single combat and war as a love affair, in both of which the knight was prepared to lay down his life. He fought the powers of evil, even when they were embodied in the social structure, should they seem to outrage his inner standards.
St Michael was the patron saint of knighthood, famed for his fight with the Devil, whom he hurled down headlong, and with the powers of evil which he routed. His image, the hero in shining armour, lance in hand, haunted the enraptured minds or generous hearts of those eager to sacrifice themselves to make the world a better place. The ideals of knighthood would seem to be wrapped up in a religious fervour. Huizinga emphasizes the way in which medieval chivalry took St Michael as its pattern, orders of knighthood being likened to the orders of angels around God’s throne. Being knighted was, in the view of the Spanish writer, the Infante Don Juan Manuel (1282-1348), like such sacraments as baptism or marriage.
Yet the image of the knight was not simply the image of what a man might hope to become. It was also the image of the sort of man one longed to have, in whose brave and loving arms one longed to rest. Old King Mordrayns, in The Tale of the Sankgreal, provides an example when he falls into Galahad’s arms saying:
The true knight is one who, like Sir Perceval, joins in the quest of the Holy Grail and from whom all the world awaits its celestial nourishment.