Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by an anonymous fourteenth-century poet in Northern dialect, combines two plots: "the beheading contest, in which two parties agree to an exchange of the blows with a sword or ax, and the temptation, an attempted seduction of the hero by a lady" (Norton p.200). The Green Knight, depicted as a green giant with supernatural powers, disrespectfully rides into King Arthur's court and challenges the king to a Christmas game -- a beheading contest. Sir Gawain, a young, brave and loyal knight of the Round Table, acting according to the chivalric code, takes over the challenge his lord has accepted. The contest states that Sir Gawain …show more content…

The hero's helmet, "embellished with the best gems"(Norton, p.214, l.609) and "with diamonds richly set"( Norton, p.214, l.617), has been made by many women who had to work for seven years in order to create such beauty. Besides being very heavy, the knight's suit is also described as being composed and decorated with the most lavish and expensive materials such as silk, gold and diamonds. This strikes the reader as being odd. When we first meet him, Sir Gawain describes himself as poor, humble, insignificant and the weakest of all the knights, and, yet he has such goodly clothes and armor. This little detail could be overlooked (because, after all, the hero is King Arthur's nephew), but it makes the contemporary reader realize that the things in the King Arthur's court are not always what they appear.

Sir Gawain "heard the mass and honored God humbly" (Norton, p.214, l.593) before the long journey. The word that captures the reader's attention and has important meaning and significance in relation to this passage as well as to the poem as a whole is "humbly." The hero thinks of himself as being humble and courteous

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