Sir Gawain and the Green Knight & color

analytical Essay
1426 words
1426 words

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. At the onset of Sir Gawain and the Green Night the unknown author goes to great length physically describing the opulence of Christmastime in Arthur's court. For Camelot even Christmastide, a deeply religious holiday, is given significance based on its futile aesthetic veneer rather than inherent religious value. The dais is “well –decked” (Sir Gawain and the Green Night, 75), and “costly silk curtains” (76) canopy over Queen Guinevere. The Knights are described as “brave by din by day, dancing by night” (47 ), this is to say they are the paradigm of bravery and gentility. Both bravery and gentility are not indicative of the knights’ humanity, his feelings and thoughts, rather how appears and acts. Dissimilar to King Arthur’s opulent and boyish description, the Green Knight appears earthly, like an overgrown lumberjack in a debutante ball. His very entrance to the narrative aims to shatter Camelot’s superficial relationship with earthly trials. While Arthur seeks pleasure in hearing tales “of some fair feat” (92), the Green Knight undermines all formality known to be chivalrous challenging the king to a life risking game. With a “broad neck to buttocks” (137), (opposed to Arthur’s’ court depicted in the ever regal color red,) the Knight is clothed in green, the color of nature. He appears with no armor other then his faith, merely a utilitarian woodsman’s ax. While Green Knight is described like an animal who is said to have “wagged his beard” (306) yet understands the cyclical nature of life and truth of mans futility, it is only after Sir Gawain proclaims his lack of strength (though he says it at that point as a matter of chivalry) that he is able to ... ... middle of paper ... ...Gawain’s time in the wilderness, living nature, and his acceptance of the lady’s offering of the green girdle teach him that though he may be the most chivalrous knight in the land, he is nevertheless human and capable of error. Through jest of a game the Green knight enlightens Gawain the short sights of chivalry. He comes to realize within himself that the system which bore him values appearance over truth. Ultimately he understands that chivalry provides a valuable set of ideals toward which to strive, but a person must retain consciousness of his or her own mortality and weakness in order to live deeply. While it is chivalrous notions, which kept him, alive throughout the test of the Green Knight, only through acute awareness of the physical world surrounding him was he able to develop himself and understand the Knights message. From the onset of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the author relies intensely upon descriptive language to create ambiance and tonality, but it is only later in the work, upon Sir Gawain’s development, that like Gawain, the reader is able to derive meaning from the descriptive physicality and understand the symbiotic relationship of nature and society.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how bertilak de hautdesert's chivalry is more steadfastly based on truths and reality than courtesy in arthur’s court.
  • Analyzes how color plays an important role in understanding the poem when the wife of bertilak de hautdesert becomes involved in the story.
  • Analyzes how the green knight enlightens gawain on the short sights of chivalry, but only through acute awareness of the physical world surrounding him was he able to develop himself and understand the knights message.
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