Archetypes In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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In almost any story, whether novel or poem, lies a hero. Depending on the path, a variety of archetypes usually accompany the hero. 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 introduces the common archetypes often found in various pieces of literature, explaining “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,” in his preface to the 1949 edition. To summarize, after learning of the different archetypes found in a story, one…show more content…
Examples such as the Green Knight, a product of Morgan le Faye and Morgan’s castle and everything that lies within it support this idea. Although, not only can green represent the envy that makes the story, it can also represent a connection to nature, perhaps even other-worldly. The fact that the Green Knight made up of green demonstrates a very important relation between him and the world, revealed through his weapons of choice such as his holly branch and axe. Meanwhile, red and gold, strongly associated with Gawain, contrast the Green Knight’s green and gold. The color red represents love and life (blood) while gold represents wealth and prosperity. The colors serve as a wonderful visual to Gawain’s character— very noble.
The role of the temptress, a character archetype identified by Joseph Campbell, tests the moral values of the hero in the hero’s journey. In mythology, sirens or nymphs often depicted the temptress, but in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the temptress took the form of a human seductress. In the poem, as Sir Bertilak sets off to hunt every morning, the lovely Lady Bertilak, otherwise known as Sir Bertilak’s wife, pays Sir Gawain a visit. A seductress should bear some beauty to impose the threat of seduction, because this gives the temptress the ability to hold power over the hero’s head with something he or she wants, or something material. What better characteristic to seduce a knight than appear as "The fairest of ladies
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