Essay on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Uncovering the Origins

Essay on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Uncovering the Origins

Length: 848 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview



Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Uncovering the Origins      

 

It is very common for ancient and medieval works to be passed down to modern readers without the identity of the original writer. Though the romance known as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is anonymous, there are many clues that can help us understand who the writer might have been and where he might have lived.

When trying to learn about the circumstances in which a piece of medieval writing was produced, scholars first look to the manuscripts in which the text is preserved. We can learn a lot just from the way it was written and manufactured.

In the case of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it is preserved in only one manuscript-that is, the only reason that we know about this story at all is because somehow a single copy of the story survived from the Middle Ages all the way into the modern period. The fact that there is only one manuscript suggests that this story was probably not the equivalent of a medieval bestseller (compare with Chaucer, whose Canterbury Tales survives in almost 90 full and partial manuscripts, and therefore qualifies as a major medieval English hit).

The single Sir Gawain and the Green Knight manuscript is a small book without many decorations (it has a few drawings that aren't very good), and it contains three other short poems written in the same verse form which are probably by the same author as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but which are about religious themes. By nature, books were very expensive to make-all the pages come from the thinly scraped hides of cows or sheep. But because the manuscript seems to have been made quite modestly, scholars assume that the book was made for so...


... middle of paper ...


...-poet, both of which are acceptable names for this author) is considered as important a writer today as is William Langland, author of the profoundly influential Piers Plowman, and Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the famous Canterbury Tales.

The period of time in which this poem was written is considered the late Middle Ages; at this time in England, the English language is emerging as the language of politics, government, popular religious writing and literature in England. Earlier in the Middle Ages, the fate of the English language in England was less certain; the Latin used by the church and the French used by the Norman invaders threatened to suppress English. By the fourteenth century, however, English speakers became educated English writers, and thus came to write and read in their native language (though they often still read and wrote in French and Latin too).

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- ... The scholar David Beauregard, gives insight into why the Green Knight is worthy to test the character of Sir Gawain. Beauregard discusses how the Green Knight is morally perfect, “in the standpoint of medivial moral theology” (146). The Green Knight is a guiding force for Gawain as learns about himself over the course of the year. Before he leaves his court he is dressed in a suit of armor, including a shield that had a pentangle painted on it, and “he looked well in what he wore, and was worthy of it” (622)....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
1159 words (3.3 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essays

- An Unchivalrous Knight: Sir Gawain Exposed In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Poet Pearl, Sir Gawain, knight of the Round Table, acts chivalrously, yet his intents are insincere and selfish. It is the advent season in Middle Age Camelot, ruled by King Arthur when Poet Pearl begins the story. In this era citizens valued morals and expected them to be demonstrated, especially by the highly respected Knights of the Round Table. As one of Arthur’s knights, Sir Gawain commits to behaving perfectly chivalrous; however, Gawain falls short of this promise....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
949 words (2.7 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- ... Once a knight reached the appropriate age, there would be a ceremony where the knight would swear an oath to God and to his lord, then he would receive his sword and armor. Armor was given to knight because most people during these times couldn’t afford suitable, tough armor. Sir Gawain receives his armor before he travels to the Green Knights castle. “Then they showed him the shining scarlet shield with its pentangle painted in pure gold”. (Ll.619-620) Sir Gawain shows his noble character and virtues when he refuses to sleep with the hosts’ wife and disregards her bold flirtation....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
1125 words (3.2 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- ... The Green Knight’s true intentions and motives are not revealed until the end of the story. In this text, religion plays an important role seeing how the beginning of the passage opens up to a Christmastime celebration emphasizing the importance of religion to these knights. Before Gawain departs for his journey to the Green Chapel, he is given a shield designed with a pentangle, an endless knot on the outside, on the inside was an image of the “Queen of Heaven found in her child” (l. 647), the Virgin Mary and her the child Jesus....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
1188 words (3.4 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay examples

- Throughout the world, intriguing stories manifest within the minds of creative writers. One story that often captives the attention of many scholar’s would have to be “Sir Gawain the Green Knight,” which has been translated by J.R.R. Tolkien. During the epic poem, the reader travels to a time where chivalry is the way society functions morally and socially for the noble class. Although the setting of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is during medieval times, the primary focus is placed on the qualities of knighthood....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
782 words (2.2 pages)

Lord Gawain And The Green Knight Essays

- 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. Shedd’s central argument is that Sir Gawain’s true conflict is internal; it is with the duality of his own humanity. He starts by explaining that “man stands midway between the angels and the animals, partaking of both natures” (Shedd 245)....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
745 words (2.1 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essays

- ... This decision revealed the people’s tendency to forfeit moral approaches for more reassuring “schemes” under the pressure of death. Sir Gawain’s own “noble” deception toward the Green Knight highlights the people’s desperation to appear faithful while unable to endorse the values of their belief system. However, at the Green Knight recognizes that Sir Gawain “loved [his] life” which was “less, then, to blame” (li. 2368). The Green Knight interprets the anguish of human nature’s desire to cling to life in a compassionate manner; therefore he mimics the forgiving quality of Christianity’s authority figure....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
1321 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Lines 1372-1453 from The Norton Anthology of English Literature Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written in the fourteenth century by an anonymous poet who was a contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer. The story was originally written in a Northern dialect. It tells the story of Sir Gawain's first adventure as a knight. This section of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight pertains to the agreement between Bercilak de Hautdesert, the host, and Gawain. Bercilak is to go hunting in the morning, while Gawain sleeps....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Free Essays
476 words (1.4 pages)

Essay about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Nothing is known about the author who wrote the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Yet it is considered one of the greatest works from the Middle English era. It tells a tale of a mysterious and magical figure (The Green Knight) who presents a challenge to the pride and wealth of Arthur's kingdom. Sir Gawain accepts the challenge. However, the real test of the Green Knight isn't about strength or swordsmanship. It's a test of character. During Christmas at Camelot, the celebration is interrupted by the entrance of the Green Knight....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Better Essays
656 words (1.9 pages)

Essay on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

- Sir Gawain and The Green Knight The story, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, was told in the14th century by an anonymous poet about a young knight on his first adventure. In my analysis of Part 4, lines 2358 through 2350, I will discuss the significance of the number three, the tap, the asking of the Green Knight his name, and the green belt. I will develop the theory that the author uses this story and these significant symbols to bring out his Christian beliefs about the flesh and its weakness....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Free Essays
911 words (2.6 pages)