Character Analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Character Analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Depiction of a believable character has always been a difficult task for any writer. A true character must evoke emotions and make the readers want to learn more about him or her. The appearance, acts, words and nature of this character must be vivid and understandable by the audience. In medieval England, Arthurian literary works, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell," describe the character of Sir Gawain as a noble hero, having chivalrous and virtuous attributes.

Sir Gawain is said to be the nephew of Arthur: "His parents are Lot of Orkney and Morgause (though his mother is said to be Anna in Geoffrey of Monmouth). Upon the death of Lot, be becomes the head of the Orkney clan, which includes in many sources his brothers Aggravain, Gaheris, and Gareth, and his half-brother Mordred" (Legends, online). He is also the youngest of the knights of the Round Table.

Besides being the nephew of Arthur, he is one of his closest companions and an active participant in the numerous adventures which they encounter. Sir Gawain is a protagonist or a main hero in the earlier Arthurian legends, but he is often included in later stories of the fifteenth century as a confidant or a secondary character. For example in Morte Darthur, by Sir Thomas Malory, Gawain is a secondary character, and the main hero is Sir Lancelot.

In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight written by an anonymous author, we are given a description of Sir Gawain's appearance, as he is preparing to go on a quest to find the Green Knight and complete the yearlong beheading game (Norton, 215). His armor, clothing and horse all suggest that he is not a poor knight. His helmet is decorated with gems and embroidered with parrots and turtledoves; his shield has image of Virgin Mary on the inside and an "endless knot"(Norton, 215) or a pentangle on the outside. This figure is a star with five points that is drawn in an unbroken line, which also happens to be a symbol of Gawain's five virtues.
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