Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance about the adventure of Sir Gawain, King Arthur's Knight of the Round Table. This great verse is praised not only for its complex plot and rich language, but also for its sophisticated use of symbolism. Symbolism is a technique used in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to give a significance to the plot. The Green Knight, the Green Sash, and Sir Gawain's Shield are three of the most prominent symbols given to us in this verse.
In the beginning of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain is introduced as a courtly knight with a sense of perfection. The author does this to compare it to his failures, which are later displayed through Gawain’s acts at Morgan le Fay’s castle. Gawain is portrayed to be a chivalrous knight with honor and courage. Gawain is presented with a challenge: accept the game to cut off the Green Knight’s head, and in a test of courage and honor, set out to allow the Green Knight to return the favor to him in a year and a day. This initially shows the knightly characteristics of Gawain which presents him as noble and honorable, which allows the author to shock the audience when Gawain falls under pressure to actions that contradict the chivalrous code. The first of these actions taken by Gawain in opposition to his morals is the temptation
A number of several different archetypes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are what makes the hero’s journey so successful in many ways. The journey sends the Hero in search of some truth that will help save his kingdom. Sir Gawain goes on a journey to find the Green Knight as per his request. This journey ultimately leads to the knowledge that he seems truly chivalrous. As Sir Gawain approaches the castle, the men of the castle were begging him to cross the bridge. The bridge
An archetype, which can also refer to as a universal symbol, can not only limit it to theme, setting, and symbol but can also refer to as a character. A type of archetype can not only represent one character, it can represent many different types of characters. Depending on the story that the author wants to try and portray. In the medieval romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight dramatically demonstrates how a single character can play many archetypal roles. This story possesses many different types of characters that can all have more than one archetype. Having characters that more than one archetype in this story helps build Sir Gawain’s character and helps guide him through his initial quest and trails that he encounters to face in order to face the Green Knight. There are several different characters in the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that aid in the troubles that Sir Gawain faces throughout the story.
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, many archetypes can be found, like in most works of literature. This literary work included situational and symbolic archetypes as well as character archetypes and color archetypes. Each archetype in the poem aided in Sir Gawain’s development as a character. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight dramatically demonstrates how a single character can play many archetypal roles.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale that takes place in the medieval period. During this time period, knights were considered very common and were expected to follow one main code of law, chivalry. This code mainly stated that a knight must be loyal to his king, honest, modest, and brave. Chivalry is practiced in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the form of tests that are given to Gawain to reveal his true character, and what is valued most to him. Throughout these tests, Sir Gawain proves that he values his honor over his life and will not fall to temptations displayed to him.
Even though the green knight turns out to be good at the end of the story, he still presents Gawain with a variety of difficult challenges throughout the poem that make him seem evil. The green knight is first perceived as evil when he barges into king Arthur’s castle and insults the knights of camelot for hesitating to cut off his head. The moment that Sir Gawain volunteers to cut off the green knights instead of allowing Arthur to do so he is crossing the threshold from the ordinary world into the world of adventure. When Gawain departs on his journey to have his head cut off he is putting the greater good of camelot before his preference of not being decapitated by giant green knights. This choice that Gawain makes marks his first step towards becoming a better knight. Even
In many works of literature, many archetypes (or symbols) are used to help the reader understand the story of a hero’s quest. In the Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, the hero has to go on a fatal journey to uphold the reputation of Camelot. While enduring that journey, Gawain has to conquer many trails. Gawain’s succession of trials leaves the hero, like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, a “sadder but wiser man.” With all the trials that Gawins intakes, many archetypal characters contribute to the theme of the story.
When talking about a morally ambiguous character, many ideas may float to mind. Perhaps a Dr. Jekyll type of person will pop up in your mind, or maybe just simply a person who doesn’t let morality get in the way of their ambitions. For a character to have a sense of evil present in them, it is not necessary for them to walk around with an ominous laugh, or anything comical in those lines. Similarly, for a character to have a sense of good, it does not mean they have to be perfectly correct either. In order to put the morally ambiguity into perspective, it is necessary to analyze the presence of both good and evil into a real character, and how it affects the story as a whole. From the Pearl Poet’s chivalric romance, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, Sir Gawain is an excellent example of a morally ambiguous character. In the poem, Gawain’s purely good image was shattered when he cut off the Green Knight’s head, since he took the game as a challenge. That event could be considered as the event that set the plot into action, as the following events are all resulting from Gawain’s action. However, Gawain symbolizes good by initially embracing the knight's moral code in accepting the challenge and then, agreeing to the terms of the Green Knight. Gawain still symbolizes goodness by demonstrating proper knightly actions at times. The Pearl Poet uses Gawain as a morally ambiguous character to set up the plot. He firstly sets up Gawain as a good character, then uses a series of
Archetypes are universal symbols used in literature to represent fundamental human motifs. In the medieval romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the hero must undergo archetypal situations to succeed in his quest to redeem the honor of Camelot. Gawain embodies the transcendent hero as he further goes into “The Zone of Magnified Power” (Campbell 71) then faces conflict resulting from the threat placed on the society. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight dramatically demonstrates how a single character can play many archetypal roles.
The tale of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” focuses primarily on beliefs of honor, bravery, and chivalry. The main character, Sir Gawain, embodies these qualities. His character is meant to be a model of chivalry. He emanates honor when he offers to fight the Green Knight for King Arthur. Medieval people would admire this courageous act. In his struggles to keep his promise Gawain demonstrates chivalry and loyalty until his honor is assessed, in the end, by the Green Knight’s schemes. This tale also includes a larger-than-life character who commands respect, the Green Knight. This superhuman being defies all laws of nature when his head is chopped off, yet he still remains alive and alert. These characters and their extraordinary actions provide perspective for the values and interests of medieval people.
With every corner we turn in today’s culture, we become more and more aware of the archetypes that surround us. Archetypes are the works of a typical character, situation, setting, or symbol that can be found in fantasy and reality. An example would be the renowned medieval story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Pearl Poet. The author permeates the story with situational, symbolic, and character archetypes that illustrate the profound life of Sir Gawain. Sir Gawain was apprehensive of his journey at first, but as time passes, he began to make choices that unveils to the audience the true flawed knight that he was.
The definition of “hero” is someone who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Both stories listed below have one man, the hero, using chivalrous attitude to help their town’s people for the better. Although created from two different time periods, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’s journey motif can be easily compared to Beowulf’s, as well as contrasted.
Even in the middle ages of literature, a story such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight had many aspects of Joseph Campbell’s view of the hero’s journey. In the story of our character Sir Gawain accepts a “Call to adventure” (Campbell 45) and goes on a quest that will go through many of the archetypes. Likewise, there lies one character, The Green Knight, that can be many of the archetypal characters in the cycle of the hero’s journey. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight dramatically demonstrates how a single character can play many archetypal roles.
Part of the essence of drama is conflict. A man cannot be considered a hero unless he has overcome some form of opposition. In many cases, this opposition comes in the form of another character. Typically, the conflict is simplified as a malignant character with wicked intentions committing acts which would be characterized as evil; the protagonist opposes this villain and usually overcomes that character, winning the day and the admiration of all. Sometimes, the main character becomes a hero by overcoming some force within his or her own self. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this is ultimately what Gawain must do in order to be considered a hero.