Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the most intriguing Middle English chivalric romances known today. The poem is a delicately written balancing act between two cultures, clashing in a time of unease between the religion of tradition, (paganism) and the new religion, (Christianity). The poem is also one of the best known Arthurian tales, with its plot combining two types of folklore patterns, the beheading game and the exchange of winnings. The Green Knight is interpreted by many as a representation of the Green Man of folklore and by others as an allusion to Christ. The story is told in stanzas of alliterative verse, ending in a bob and wheel. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an important poem in the Middle English romance genre, because it involves all the typical plot progression of a hero who goes on a quest to prove himself. Yet what sets Sir Gawain apart from heroes of lore is his inability to finish his quest. The aspect which makes Sir Gawain and the Green Knight different is Sir Gawain’s failure. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a perfect example of the struggle between enduring Paganism and newfound Christianity.
Part One of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight opens on a night of a feast hosted by King Arthur and Guenevere in celebration of the New Year. The poet establishes a lively mood, and emphasizes the festive atmosphere of the hall: “Such gaiety and glee, glorious to hear, / Brave din by day, dancing at night. / High were their hearts in halls and chambers, / These lords and ladies, for life was sweet” (46-49). Gifts are given out, tournament games are held, and lavish dishes are enjoyed on each of the fifteen days of the feast. On this particular night, King Arthur, Guenevere, their loyal knights, and their guests have just sat down for the first dishes of the meal. The poet introduces King Arthur, establishing the first caricature of masculinity. The poet explains Arthur’s idiosyncratic need to witness something spectacular before he can eat: “So light was his lordly heart, and a little boyish; / His life he liked lively, the less he cared / To be lying for long, or long to sit, / So busy his young blood, his brain so wild” (86-89). The poet continues, writing, “For he nobly had willed,
Society expects ultimate perfection of all people. Due to this people are pressured to act a certain way that they would otherwise not act. The journey of obtaining perfection and maintaining it leads to success and failure. But what is considered failing while trying to become a different person? This topic is addressed in the poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by Pearl Poet. The main character Sir Gawain finds himself on a journey that will test his knightly integrity and the true nature of his personality. Sir Gawain fails his quest when he responds to the challenge in an aggressive way; by doing so he shows his lack of concern for human life, he fails to uphold his agreement with Lord Bertilak, and succumbs to fear when the
In the poem “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight,” a protagonist emerges depicting an Arthurian knight named Sir Gawain. Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew, takes initiative by accepting the challenge requested by the Green Knight in place of his uncle. He undergoes a perilous adventure, seeking for the Green Knight to receive the final blow. Although Sir Gawain is not viewed as a hero for his military accomplishments, he is, however, viewed as a heroic figure by the Knights at the Round Table for his knightly characteristics.
Gawain’s first portrayal of being a true knight comes when the Green Knight makes his appearance in Camelot. The Green Knight first speaks to King Arthur and proposes that they play a “game.” Arthur will strike the Green Knight with his axe, and in return the Green Knight will return the strike in a year and a day. King Arthur agrees to this game and its terms, but as he steps up to accept the challenge, Gawain comes forward and offers to participate in the “game” in place of King Arthur. Sir Gawain says to King Arthur, “I implore with prayer plain that this match should now be mine” (341-342). Gawain goes on to strike the Green Knight, cutting off his head. However, the strike does not kill the Green Knight; he picks up his head from the ground and repeats to Sir Gawain that he will return the blow in a year and a day. In this moment, Gawain’s bravery is clearly showcased. First, he takes a challenge in place of his king, which he did not have to do.
At first the hero possesses no clue of the excursion set upon them, he receives a call to a journey from the herald which changes his life. In the poem, during the celebration takes place when the Green Knight challenges Camelot, “If any knight be so bold as to prove my words, let him come swiftly to me here..” (Weston 6); thus ultimately making this request the call for Gawain. Even though the Green Knight displays this challenge towards King Arthur, Gawain wholeheartedly intervenes and presents himself as the one to undergo the challenge. As Gawain agrees to the “fateful region of both treasure and danger…” (Campbell 53); he hesitates towards the refusal of the call the Green Knight presents to the knights of Camelot, but knows he must do it for the reputation of Camelot. Gawain must decapitate the Green Knight with an axe and in return the Green Knight holds a right to deal him
The alliterative poem “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight” is a story of bravery, yet fearfulness of a young knight and his willingness to stand up out of respect for his king. This Middle Age poem, originated in the late fourteenth century by an unknown author called Gawain’s poet, follows the journey of King Arthur’s nephew, Sir Gawain. Sir Gawain is a knight for the royal court during the time and when the Green Knight questions the loyalty of King Arthur’s court, Gawain is the only person to stand up for the king. Doing this shows his loyalty to the king and is the beginning steps to reaching courtesy and chivalry.
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is the classic tale of a knight of the round table who takes up the challenge of the mysterious Green Knight. The poem begins with the Green Knight’s sudden arrival and his declaration of his proposition: a knight may strike him, and then a year and one day from then he will return the blow. This tale is most well-known for dealing with the themes of a knight’s code of chivalry, loyalty, resisting temptation, and keeping one’s word. While the whole poem is full of great lines that beautifully deliver the message, one of the best passages come at the end of the poem after Sir Gawain has managed to survive his second encounter with the Green Knight. This passage perfectly encompasses the various themes of the poem, as it deals with all of the trials Gawain has faced up until that point and also explains how he deals with the shame he feels for surviving the game in the way he did.
The poem consistently depicts Gawain as the perfect knight. The description of Gawain’s shield, given as he dresses to embark on his search to find the Green Chapel, advertises Gawain’s glorious virtues. The shield, with a five pointed endless knot on the front, represents the five most important parts of knighthood. Gawain follows the points to perfection, as “For, ever faithful in five things, each in fivefold manner, / Gawain was reputed good and, like gold well refined, / He was devoid of all villainy, every virtue displaying” (Stone 27.14-16). Gawain does not simply strive to be chivalrous and knightly; he is the epitome of righteousness. When the Green Knight goads King Arthur into accepting his swing-for-swing bet, Gawain, recognizing the dangerous nature of this bet, swiftly steps forward and convinces Arthur to allow him to strike the Green Knight. Gawain willingly puts the safety of the kingdom and King Arthur over his
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a poem that portrays the ideal knight. Throughout this poem games tend to play a very important role. There are two different games that are played. These games are played to test a knights nobility and faith, to see how far he would go to he the perfect knight. The first game is between Gawain and the green knight. The green knight gives Gawain a challenge that he has to fulfill. During this challenge Gawain has to cut off the green knight's head. The second game is between Gawain and lady Bertilak, later in the story when Gawain goes back to finish the rest of his challenge he runs into lady Bertilak and she strikes him a deal. These games are all a test, to see which knight holds the most courage.
Gawain, a knight of the famed King Arthur, is depicted as the most noble of knights in the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Nonetheless, he is not without fault or punishment, and is certainly susceptible to conflict. Gawain, bound to chivalry, is torn between his knightly edicts, his courtly obligations, and his mortal thoughts of self-preservation. This conflict is most evident in his failure of the tests presented to him. With devious tests of temptation and courage, Morgan le Fay is able to create a mockery of Gawain’s courtly and knightly ideals. Through the knight Gawain, the poem is able to reveal that even knights are human too with less than romantic traits.
The poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight begins in the hall of King Author where a man known as the Green Knight brings a challenge to any knight in the kingdom. However, when no man takes the challenge the Green Knight directs the challenge to the King himself. That is when a young man named Gawain, who considers himself to be the “slightest and dullest” of all the knights in the King’s court volunteers to take on the challenge. Gawain believes his only virtues come through that of the King. And that this task that is considered to be “foolish” , fits his rightful situation (51). Gawain believes he is the rightful match to play the green man’s game. With accepting this challenge, Gawain “heart and hand must be steady and strong/” (58). The challenge begins with Gawain having to swiftly lay an axe through the Green Knights neck. As quickly as the Green Knight’s head falls to the floor, the Green Knight picks up his head and states that Gawain will now have to make his way to his castle. At once the Green Knight mounts his horse, the game has
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is an excellent work to reference when examining different relationships within Arthurian legends. The author of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is unknown, but he is sometimes referred to as the “Gawain Poet” or “Pearl Poet” because of his additional works: “Pearl,” “Purity,” and “Patience.” All four poems were part of the Alliterative Revival of the Middle Ages of Northern England, containing mostly religious content. This may be the origin of Gawain’s exaggeratedly religious portrayal in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is organized in a stanza arrangement. Each stanza ends with one short line and four longer lines, called the bob and wheel, which “knits” the story together. It may important to note that the work was most likely written in the fourteenth century. The work is set in sixth-seventh centuries, but includes modern advances in armory, dress, and décor from the time the poem was written. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” exhibits many different types of love and relationships in which they are demonstrated. Familial love, spiritual love, erotic love, and courtly love are demonstrated within families, friendships, marriages, and Godly relationships.
The events of the poem begin with a feast in the court of King Arthur at New Year which the Green Knight interrupts to offer his challenge. King Arthur’s custom is to not sit down to eat until either someone has told a story about “sum aduenturus þyng”(l. 93) or if such an event actually occurs, which follows the Gawain-poet’s source of the First Continuation of Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval . King Arthur thus symbolically invites the Green Knight into the court as providing the adventure he was waiting for, so that the Green Knight “does not disrupt the courtly ceremonial so much as complete it.” However, the Gawain-poet deviates from his source by having King Arthur accept the Green Knight’s challenge, and then Gawain interrupt the King just before he is able to do so, as opposed to the rash Caradoc who leaps forth to take up the challenge immediately. As Benson writes, by making this change from the source, Gawain “is thus no longer a free agent.” As demonstrated even by the seating in the hall , it is inevitable that Gawain should take the place of King Arthur, since for King Arthur to take the challenge is “not semly”(l. 348), and since Gawain is the second after his uncle. Gawain, introduced in the poem as “gode Gawan”(l. 109), and it is precisely on the reputation of Arthur’s knights that the