Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

analytical Essay
1147 words
1147 words

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by an anonymous fourteenth-century poet in Northern dialect, combines two plots: "the beheading contest, in which two parties agree to an exchange of the blows with a sword or ax, and the temptation, an attempted seduction of the hero by a lady" (Norton p.200). The Green Knight, depicted as a green giant with supernatural powers, disrespectfully rides into King Arthur's court and challenges the king to a Christmas game -- a beheading contest. Sir Gawain, a young, brave and loyal knight of the Round Table, acting according to the chivalric code, takes over the challenge his lord has accepted. The contest states that Sir Gawain is to chop off the Green Knight's head, and in one year and a day, the antagonist is to do the same to the hero. The whole poem is constructed in a way that leads the reader through the challenges that Sir Gawain faces -- the tests for honesty, courtesy, truthfulness. Throughout, we see his inner strength to resist the temptations. Lines 566 through 634 portray the hero as he dresses up and gets ready to go to find the Green Knight on November first, almost a year after the beheading contest in the king Arthur's court. Remembering the beheaded Green Knight on the horse with his head under his arm, King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table try to talk Sir Gawain out of going on this dangerous and, possibly last, mission, but the hero, keeping his part of the bargain, acts as the true and honorable knight should act: he goes to find the villain. The first stanza depicts the protagonist who orders his armor to be brought to him. A rare and expensive car... ... middle of paper ... to bear his shame. The passage from lines 566 to 634 brings forth the idea of truth, from which the rest of the poem's action evolves; it remains the central concern of the adventures and of the poem itself. As Sir Gawain leaves Camelot to search for the Green Knight, he sets on the quest to "retain his self-respect as a virtuous and religious knight" (Stone), which gives the poem its "final and only discernible shape" (Stone). Works Cited The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Sixth Edition Volume1. Ed. M.H.Abrams. New York: W.W.Norton and Company, Inc., 1993. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Second Edition. Translated with an introduction by Brian Stone. New York: Penguin Books, 1974. The Middle English text was obtained from the following website.Online Internet. April 9 1999. Available

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes sir gawain and the green knight, written by an anonymous fourteenth-century poet in northern dialect.
  • Analyzes how lines 566 through 634 portray the hero as he dresses up and gets ready to go to find the green knight on november first, almost a year after the beheading contest in king arthur's court.
  • Analyzes how sir gawain describes himself as poor, humble, insignificant, and the weakest of all the knights, yet he has goodly clothes and armor.
  • Analyzes how sir gawain "heard the mass and honored god humbly" before the long journey. the hero thinks of himself as being humble and courteous, but the development of the action brings the protagonist to realize that he might not have been as humble.
  • Explains that sir gawain's horse, gringolet, is the only companion for the knight on his long trip and his only support in the battles with evil and mysterious forces.
  • Explains that sir gawain's shield has the greatest significance in this whole passage because of his emblem, the pentangle, portrayed on it.
  • Emphasizes the 'fiveness' of the multiple concept of truth: the five wits and five fingers make up the spiritual and physical human self which can practice virtue or vice.
  • Analyzes how the pentangle is established as the knight's symbol immediately before he sets out on his quest.
  • Explains the norton anthology of english literature. sixth edition volume1. ed. m.h.abrams. sir gawain and the green knight.
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