Archetypal Characters In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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Archetypes play a key role in helping a hero develop. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain must face a series of challenges that each of the archetypal characters give him, helping him develop throughout the story. Archetypal characters such as The Green Knight, King Arthur, The Hostess, and Morgain all play a role in creating conflicts that affect Sir Gawain’s own personal development. The Green Knight plays a vital role in Sir Gawain’s development, serving as the story’s “herald” (Campbell 56), minion, and evil figure who ultimately ends up being good. The Green Knight initiates Gawain’s first conflict by challenging the knights of Camelot to cut off his head. Gawain accepts the challenge, but the Green Knight survives and inquires that Gawain come back in a year to get his own head chopped off. In this instance, the knight creates a conflict within Gawain, in his refusal of the challenge. Gawain feels the stress of having to follow the knightly code of honor. When Gawain finally travels to the Green Chapel the next year, he comes across a castle and meets the host. The host takes Gawain in as a guest and allows him to stay until Christmas. While Gawain is staying at his castle the host gives Gawain another task to fulfill: Gawain must trade whatever he has been given for whatever the host has hunted. This task creates an inner conflict within Gawain, for Gawain has been forced to give up whatever he has, even if the gift he has received may end up dishonoring him.

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