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Essays On Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Essays On Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Lines 1372-1453 from The Norton Anthology of English Literature

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written in the fourteenth century by an anonymous poet who was a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer. The story was originally written in a Northern dialect. It tells the story of Sir Gawain ‘s first adventure as a knight.

This section of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight pertains to the agreement between Bercilak de Hautdesert, the host, and Gawain. Bercilak is to go hunting in the morning, while Gawain sleeps. Upon the return of Bercilak from his hunting trip, he is to give to Gawain all that he has caught. In return, Gawain is to return all that he has won in his «hunt.» They make this bargain three times, at the end of each day.

The segment begins with Bercilak showing Gawain the fruits of his hunting trip. Gawain returns the fruits of his «hunt» by bestowing on Bercilak a kiss. The source of the kiss given to Gawain remains anonymous. However, Gawain is not aware that Bercilak knows exactly where and from whom Gawain has received his gift.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight consists of three hunts, three temptations, and three different animals. It is not by accident that the first day’s hunt is for deer. The deer represents the innocence and purity of Gawain as a knight. The lengthy and detailed description of the hunt and the capture of the deer serve to emphasize the symbolism of the deer. The even more detailed description of the slaughter and butchering of the meat further emphasizes the symbolism. It can be inferred that the butchering of the deer is similar to the fate that awaits Gawain when he meets with the Green Knight.

The next day’s hunt is for a wild boar. The fierce animal is symbolic of Gawain’s reactions to the increasing advances from Bercilak’s wife. The boar is fierce and much more difficult to catch and kill, just as Gawain is steady in his resistance to temptation. Bercilak is aware that Gawain is resistant to all temptation at this point. Gawain is true to his reputation of a chivalrous, worthy knight.

The third day’s hunt is for the wily and cunning fox. This is symbolic of the clever way that Gawain resists temptation. However, Gawain is tricked by Bercilak’s wife into taking the Green girdle. The acceptance of this gift represents Gawain’s fall from perfect chivalry and knighthood, since he lies about it to Bercilak.

The language used in this passage from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is not particularly difficult to interpret. However, it is necessary to have read the entire story in order to understand the this section.

Abrams, MH, et al. Eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1993.

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Courage and Honesty in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

«Sir Gawain and the Green Knight» is a poem written by a poet (name unknown) approximately 6000 years ago in the late 1300′s in the medieval times. This story was originally written in medieval literature with a real unique rhyme scheme, but was translated later in time to regular English for high school students and researchers to study and read.

The story begins during the New Year’s feast in King Arthur’s court. Then a green knight enters asking all of the knights in the court if they would like to play a game. The game is he will allow which ever knight that chooses to challenge him one swing with a battle ax to try and chop off his head, but in order to play the game, the accepting knight must meet the green knight one year later at the green chapel. The brave knight Sir Gawain accepts to the challenge of the green knight. Sir Gawain takes one swing and chops off the head of the green knight. Right after the green knight’s head is chopped off he gets up immediately, picks up his head and leaves. Once a year passes, Gawain sets off on a journey to find the Green Chapel. He arrives at a castle in which a lord welcomes him to stay for several days (Gawain only needs to stay there for three). The next morning the lord makes an agreement to share everything he gets during these three days with Gawain, but Gawain must agree to do the same. During days one and two the lord’s wife tries hitting on Gawain, but he only allows her to give him a few kisses. At these days Gawain shares what he got to the lord for what he has hunted those days. On the third day, Gawain finally accepts to take a magic girdle from the lord’s wife, but he didn’t share it with the lord. This magic girdle helped Gawain survive the three fatal swing’s of the green giant’s ax, only leaving him with a little nick. After Gawain survives these 3 swings at his neck, the green knight then reveals his identity and explains that he is Bercilak, the lord of the castle. He also said that the three blows were taken at him in regards to the three days of their agreement. The first two days he stayed truthful and shared what he received (this resembles the two swings taken that were misses). On the third day when he received the magic girdle, in which he should of returned to the lord, is why he received the little nick on his neck. Afterwards the lord asked Gawain to come back to the castle to celebrate, but Gawain said I must return at once to Arthur’s court.

Throughout this whole poem there are quit a number of knightly virtues that Sir Gawain demonstrates such as bravery, courage, courtesy, and honesty. The first knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story «Sir Gawain and the Green Knight» is bravery. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates bravery is when the green knight says to Gawain (pg.81, line-2274) Did I flinch, or flee from you when your blow felled me? (pg.81, lines-2280 & 2281) Gawain replied: Enough! I won’t flinch when you hack! This shows bravery, because the second time the green knight swung to chop off his head (another miss) Gawain didn’t flinch a bit. Even though Gawain knew he wasn’t going to be picking up his head, it still took a lot of bravery to just stand there and remain still while you got this big green knight getting ready to swing at you with a battle ax. The second knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story «Sir Gawain and the Green Knight» is courage. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates courage is when the lord leaves him and is telling Gawain that the knight of the Green Chapel is fierce and deadly, and that he kills every man he meets. He also tells Gawain that he will swear not to say a word about what happened, Gawain thanks him and tells him that he must be brave and continue on with his quest. As the lord is leaving Gawain, (pg.71, line- 2156) Gawain says I’ll neither groan nor weep. This shows courage in Gawain, because after all of these things that the lord was telling him, he put it all aside and built up the courage to continue on his quest and face the green knight. Another demonstration of courage is when Gawain faces the green knight in the beginning of the story also. The third knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story «Sir Gawain and the Green Knight» is courtesy. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates courtesy is after the lady giving Gawain the gift, she starts preying on his desire and knightly obligation to be polite and courteous. (pg.63, line-1771 to 1773) Urgently, spurring him to the brink, and he thinks: ‘I must accept her affection, or refuse, and offend her’, concerned with courtesy, less he be thought a boor. This shows him having courtesy by him not wanting to stop her in the middle of prey over him. Gawain knew he was doing something wrong by accepting this gift in which he had no intentions to share with the lord. Even though he sinned, he wasn’t going to stop her from preying and offend her. The last and final knightly virtue that Sir Gawain demonstrates in the story «Sir Gawain and the Green Knight» is honesty. The way in which Sir Gawain demonstrates honesty is by when the lord and himself make the three day agreement. The first two days he was honest and shared what he got. On the third day while the lord was hunting his wife gives Gawain this magic girdle that she tells him it will save him from the green knight. Gawain takes it and doesn’t share what was rightfully the lords. (Pg.84, lines-2358 to 2363) For that woven garment you wear is my own girdle. My wife wove it, *so I know it well. I have missed no facts concerning your acts and kisses, Nor my wife’s wooing of you; I brought it all about. I sent her to test you. You withstood her stoutly. You’re the most faultless solider who walks on foot! This is explaining how the lord set up this trap for Gawain to fall into. This was to test his honesty and see if he would share this magic girdle that would save his life. Gawain was to the point were he wasn’t looking to be honest with the lord and give him back the girdle. He knew if would of given up the girdle the green knight would of killed him.

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Important Note: If you’d like to save a copy of the paper on your computer, you can COPY and PASTE it into your word processor. Please, follow these steps to do that in Windows:

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123HelpMe.com (the «Web Site») is produced by the «Company». The contents of this Web Site, such as text, graphics, images, audio, video and all other material («Material»), are protected by copyright under both United States and foreign laws. The Company makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the Material or about the results to be obtained from using the Material. You expressly agree that any use of the Material is entirely at your own risk. Most of the Material on the Web Site is provided and maintained by third parties. This third party Material may not be screened by the Company prior to its inclusion on the Web Site. You expressly agree that the Company is not liable or responsible for any defamatory, offensive, or illegal conduct of other subscribers or third parties.

The Materials are provided on an as-is basis without warranty express or implied. The Company and its suppliers and affiliates disclaim all warranties, including the warranty of non-infringement of proprietary or third party rights, and the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. The Company and its suppliers make no warranties as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the material, services, text, graphics and links.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Texts

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
    J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon, editors
    Revised by Norman Davis
    University of Michigan
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
    J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon, editors
    Revised by Norman Davis
    University of Virginia
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
    Transcribed by Ross G. Arthur
    York University

    to Luminarium Main

    to Middle English Literature

    to Luminarium Encyclopedia

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