Archetypes In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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Archetypes are symbols in literary pieces that give each character, object, color, and detail meanings beyond themselves, aiding the reader to interpret the piece better. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain represents the heroic image vital to Camelot after the Green Knight confronts the knights of the Round Table with a challenge. The Green Knight, however, represents the herald and a threat when introduced. As the poem continues, the reader can conclude how a single character can play many archetypal roles. After the establishing of the threat, Gawain agrees to the “fateful region of both treasure and danger…” (Campbell 53), also known as the call. The Green Knight himself initiates the quest, originally representing the herald. As Gawain rose the sword and let it fall on the knight’s neck, the Green Knight “neither faltered nor fell; he started forward with outstretched hand and caught the head…” (Weston, 9). At the attempt to decapitate the Green Knight, Gawain realizes that he will not be easily killed and rethinks what he has agreed to. At this point, the reader can define the Green Knight as a trickster for misleading Gawain into his death. Time flew by for Gawain and soon took off on his journey to find the mysterious knight. On a chilly winter night, Sir Gawain prays to God to help guide him to a safe place to spend the rest of the night. He comes across a castle in which he stays in for three days. The castle’s owner shelters Gawain and tests his loyalty.

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