Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a medieval text written by an unknown author sometime around the fourteenth century. The story is written in Middle English often making the translation difficult and open for interpretation. The story begins for Sir Gawain, a member of King Arthur’s court, as a mysterious man appears in Arthur’s court to present a challenge. He offers a challenge for the court, a blow for a blow. Gawain takes the stranger up on his challenge and it continues from there. Gawain then has to face the consequences of the decisions he makes and it then manages to spiral from there. The story creates a vivid picture of how Gawain experiences a conflict between the word of his chivalric code as well as his bond and how he lives his everyday life. Debate has raged for many years whether or not this story emphasizes the values of the chivalric life or in fact criticizes it. The language and syntax of the text itself along with the events of the story paint a critical and perhaps unconventional portrait of the chivalric life.

The first real criticism of the chivalric code begins with the scene where the Green Knight rides into Arthur’s court. Arthur begins with being a gracious host and welcoming the visitor to his court, however the favor does not seem to be reciprocated and the Knight comes off as almost rude as he issues a challenge to the court. He even goes as far as to call the Arthur’s court “berdlez chylder” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 1. 280)

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