Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

analytical Essay
830 words
830 words

The Poet’s Quiet Attack
Throughout modern and ancient literature, much has been discussed about the culture of knightly chivalry, particularly that of King Arthur’s Court. Some of these pieces praise the principles of this culture, while some seek to critique or attack them. One example of the latter is the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by an author known as the Pearl Poet. In this 14th century classic, popular views on knighthood are challenged by the testing of a knights virtues. In a subtle attack on the romanticism of knighthood, the Pearl Poet exposes the flaws, fallacies, and falsehoods of chivalry through the characteristics and experiences of Sir Gawain.
In the beginning of the book, the author subtly attacks chivalry in the poem through the circumstances and experiences Gawain endures. Two of these circumstances come near the beginning of the book. The first comes when the poet introduces the Christmas festivities of King Arthur’s Court. As all are gathered round the table, the king insists on hearing outrageous, stories of knighthood, whether they are true or not: “he would never sit and eat before someone told him a new story of some great adventure,” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2006, pg. 5). This seems normal on the surface, but when one looks deeper, they may realize that the Pearl poet points out a hypocritical falsehood in the code of knighthood. As honesty is one of the core components of chivalry, these dishonest stories show an inconsistency between the surface image of a stereotypical Arthurian knight and what one is actually like. Another such example is shown at the start of the main conflict, when the Green Knight comes riding into the court, asking if anyone is brave enough to accept a decapit...

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...ilure of the entire court. Throughout the poem, the author portrays Sir Gawain to be the truest and the best of the Arthurian knights. Yet on pg. 60, he deceives Bertilak, not holding up his end of their bargain, and on pg. 71 he failed in bravery, flinching beneath the axe of the green knight. Through these instances, the Pearl Poet shows the entire court to be worse than their reputation, as even their best., Sir Gawain does not live up to the code. In total, the Pearl Poet uses events such as these, and the poem as a whole, to point out was is wrong with romantic perceptions of chivalry.
Although many pieces have been written to glorify and romanticize 6th-century knighthood, the Pearl Poet brings perception of Arthur’s Court to a more realistic level. The poet, using Gawain and the experiences he encounters, points out the weaknesses and blemishes of chivalry.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the poem sir gawain and the green knight by an author known as the pearl poet, a subtle attack on the romanticism of knighthood.
  • Analyzes how the pearl poet subtly attacks chivalry in the poem through the circumstances and experiences of gawain.
  • Analyzes how the pearl poet's attack on chivalry through sir gawain is not only internal, but also portrays the poet’s points against knighthood.
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