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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Analysis

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Analysis

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written by an unknown author, a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer, between 1375 and 1400. This story tells us about the adventures of King Arthur's most noble, honest, and courageous knight in Camelot, Sir Gawain. The main action of the story focuses on a challenge given to Sir Gawain by the Green Knight. The knight challenges Gawain to the Christmas game where Gawain hits him with an axe now, and twelve months and a day later, the knight will return the favor at the Green Chapel.

This section of the story deals with the second meeting of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and now it's the Green Knight's turn to return the favor. Gawain has traveled long and far to find the knight and uphold his end of the challenge and meet his fate. The Knight is very impressed by Gawain because a lesser man would have not kept his end of the bargain.

All of this has led to the climax of the story with Gawain facing the knight, preparing to take the return blow from him and end the challenge. The knight raises the ax to hit Gawain, but Gawain flinches before it hits him. The knight calls Gawain a coward. This infuriates Gawain, and he swears that he will take the blow standing and not flinch again. He states, "But go on, man, in God's name, and get to the point! Deliver me my destiny, and do it out of hand, for I shall stand to the stroke and stir not an inch till your ax has hit home--on my honor, I swear it!" (Norton, 249). Gawain reacts this way because he wants to show honor and live up to his promise made earlier. Also, he feels embarrassment and anger.

The knight then acts as if he is going to use the ax again, wanting to see if Gawain will flinch first. But Gawain doesn't flinch at all and stands there, "still as a stone, or else a stout stump" (Norton, 249). The knight mocks him, saying that his nerve is back, and now he must strike because the timing is right. He then builds up the mood, and to create suspense, tells Gawain, "Keep your neck-bone clear, if this cut allows!" (Norton, 249). This further infuriates Gawain, and he tells the knight that he is making too much of a scene.
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