Archetypes In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Decent Essays

In almost any story lies a hero, whether it be novel or poem, and depending on the path, the hero is usually accompanied by a variety of archetypes. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “archetype” as “the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies.” Joseph Campbell’s A Hero With A Thousand Faces explains the common archetypes that are often found in various pieces of literature. “The parallels will be immediately apparent; and these will develop a vast and amazingly constant statement of the basic truths by which man has lived throughout the millenniums of his residence on the planet,” explains Campbell in his preface to the 1949 edition. In other words, after learning of the different archetypes that can be found in a story, one can easily identify which character represents which archetype. One must also understand that each story— bearing its own unique characteristics— will not always follow Joseph Campbell’s analysis to the tee, but will bear very similar qualities. For example, a character may represent multiple archetypes. Looking at the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, we find this to be a common trend, but characters are not the only part of a story that can be analyzed. In fact, a number of archetypal situations, characters, colors, and symbols appear in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that serve to promote Gawain’s moral development.
Unfortunately, Joseph Campbell does not discuss the significance that

Get Access