Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

2344 Words Mar 22nd, 2016 10 Pages
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A Famous Failure

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.

In the Pearl Poet’s infamous tale of chivalry and mystery, King Arthur sits on his throne in Camelot, watching as a mysterious Green Knight challenges any knight of King Arthur’s court brave enough to strike him with his axe if he will take a return blow in a year and a day. Although…

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