Hannabery, Brian. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight--The introduction. 1998. December 2, 1998. Online. Internet. Available http: csis.pace.edu/grendel/prjs3b/intro.htm
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the greatest fourteenth century text. It was written by an unknown author between 1375 and 1400. The story begins at Christmas time, and there are many symbolic elements. The Green Knight is a color which symbolizes Christmas. Also, changing seasons and the coming of winter symbolize the passing of life and reminds us that Death is unavoidable. The author also skillfully illustrates human weaknesses in the descriptions of Gawain's temptations.
Sir Gawain is the nephew of the most famous King Arthur. Gawain being in line of the throne knew he must show his bravery and man up in front of his fellow knights. The Green Knight stormed into the king’s courts riding on a mystical horse. He taunted the men asking for the bravest knight in the kingdom to stand up and take his outrageous challenge. As the men sat quietly not knowing what to do, Sir Gawain decides t...
Borroff, Marie. Sir Gawain and The Green Knight: A New Verse Translation. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1967.
Authors incorporate religious principles to set forth the moral characteristics and ideals expected of a person. Literary works are illustrated with biblical allusions to help express the message behind the plot of a story. The poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight integrates biblical beliefs to depict the views on human nature. In this work, Christian concepts are embedded into the poem to suggest the Green Knight’s characterization as God, a representation to test human nature’s fidelity.
In the anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the character of Sir Gawain is portrayed as the imperfect hero. His flaws create interest and intrigue. Such qualities of imperfection cannot be found in the symbol of the pentangle, which he displays on his shield. This contrast between character and symbol is exposed a number of times throughout the poem allowing human qualities to emerge from Gawain’s knightly portrayal. The expectations the pentangle presents proves too much for Gawain as he falls victim to black magic, strays from God, is seduced by an adulterous woman, and ultimately breaks the chivalric code by lying to the Green Knight.
In the final scenes of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain’s encounter with Sir Bertilak allows Gawain to perceive his own flaws, manifested in his acceptance of the Green Girdle. The court’s reaction to his personal guilt highlights the disconnect between him and the other knights of the Round Table. Gawain’s behavior throughout the poem has been most noteworthy; his understanding of his sin, one that many of us would dismiss since it was propelled by his love of life, enhances his stature as a paragon of chivalry.
The pressure to act righteously and to succeed socially forces individuals to sacrifice certain standards in order to achieve others. When deciding God and reputation, individuals’ ethics are questioned and sometimes changed. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight exemplifies this idea and the effect Christian and pagan ideals had during medieval times through its poetic language. There are several instances in the poem where Sir Gawain must decide between honor and his faith which unknowingly affects the outcome of his quest. Simon Armitage further denotes these ideals through tonal devices. The honor of being one of King Arthur’s knight and the Christian beliefs during his time form and shape Sir Gawain’s moral standards. His morals are altered
Though often extensive detail may be condemned as mere flowery language, in understanding Sir Gawain and the Green Knight one must make special emphasis on it. In color and imagery itself, the unknown author paints the very fibers of this work, allowing Sir Gawain to discern the nuances of ritualistic chivalry and truth. His quest after the Green Knight is as simple as ones quest toward himself. Through acute awareness of the physical world he encounters Gawain comes to an understanding of the world beyond chivalry, a connection to G-d, the source of truth. He learns, chivalry, like a machine, will always function properly, but in order to derive meaning from its product he must allow nature to affect him.
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Element of Literature, Sixth Course. Austin: Holt, Rhinehart & Winston, 1997. 161-172. Print.
In Gordon M. Shedd’s “Knight in Tarnished Armour: The Meaning of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, he argues that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is truly about the strength and weaknesses of human nature. One particularly interesting part of his argument asserts that Gawain’s humanity broke medieval romance tradition.
In Gawain and the Green Knight, the narration shows a complex level of characteristics of Sir Gawain including what makes him the embodiment of a Christian man and how he 's also very much human. When he juxtaposed to the Green Knight, who 's the symbol of nature and the Pagan ideas, his character is shown through even more.