Social Class Distinction in Sir Gawain and the Green knight Essay

Decent Essays
“Sir Gawain and the Green knight” is a romantic Middle English poem written in the fourteenth century by an unknown author. This poem is a fairy-tale like story that gives its readers a glimpse into the social class system of Medieval England. This literary work opens with the famous King Arthur, a local bishop, and King Arthur’s knights enjoying a royal feast at Camelot during the Christmas season. This poem provides an accurate depiction of the feudal system of the middle ages. Within this tale are individuals representing the “pyramid of power” that symbolizes the social class system of Medieval England. This top of the pyramid group consists of royalty, clergy and noble knights. As this mythical poem begins readers are quickly…show more content…
The significance of religious leaders during this era is evident by the fact that the writer of this poem places the bishop at the beginning of the table. Due to the fact that the “medieval society was a religious society” and that these religious leaders held a special relationship with God, it is no surprise that these individuals held the second highest social class position in the medieval time period (Feudalism and the Three Orders (Overview) 2). The last level of social class presented in “Sir Gawain and the Green knight” is represented by the noble knights of King Arthur’s round table. In the European feudal system knight service was held due to the king only (knight service (feudal law) 1). Stories of brave and courageous knights are extremely common in fourteenth century literature. Knights in medieval times were those who fought to protect the king and were often considered valiant and honorable heroes. These noble men were known for their bravery and ability to fight. Gerald Morgan points out that “beautiful ladies are drawn to the presence of great knights and by the same token such knights must learn to accustom themselves to the company of beautiful ladies”(1). At King Arthur’s banquet, Sir Gawain honorably represents the knights when he “turned to the king” stating, “‘I beseech now with all courtesy that this
Get Access