Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by an anonymous author some time during the fourteenth century, reflects many of the religious, political and social aspects illustrated in other literary works of the time. The author, a contemporary of Chaucer, lived during a time when gallantry, loyalty and honor defined a true man. During this period, Christianity was prevalent, and inherent human weakness was commonly accepted.
The author begins the poem with the mention of the siege and destruction of Troy, said to be a result of the traitorous acts of the "knight that had knotted the nets of deceit" (Norton 3), Aeneas. The knights who survive this destruction go on to build the great empires of that time:
Great Romulus to Rome repairs in haste; / With boast and with bravery builds he that city / And names it with his own name, that it now bears. / Ticius to Tuscany, and towers raises, / Langobard in Lombardy lays out homes / And far over the French Sea, Felix Brutus / On many broad hills and high Britain he sets, / most fair (8 - 15).
The author focuses on Britain, and the worthy knights bred here, saying: "Bold boys bred there, in broils delighting, / That did in their day many a deed most dire / More marvels have happened in this merry land / Than in any other I know, since that olden time" (21 - 24). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is just one of many stories surrounding these "bold boys" from the original land of the Arthurian legends. "The story is set in Camelot, the court of the legendary King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, during an extraordinary Christmas celebration. The court is relatively new, and the nobles of the land are still young. During this celebration, a st...
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...eemer of an imperfect humankind seem to be emphasized throughout the literary works of this century. The religious and moral values are summed up by the final lines of the poem: "May He that was crowned with thorn / Bring all men to His bliss! Amen. / Hony Soyt Qui Mal Pense" 2524 - 2531). "Shame be to the man who has evil in his mind," might very well be the lesson the author wanted to relay to his or her audience.
"THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY LONDON." The Most Noble Order of the Garter. Online. Internet. 20 November, 2000. Available http://www.churchill-society-london.org.uk/garter.html
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Seventh Edition. Volume 1. New York: 2000.
Zhong, Vivian. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." Online. Internet. 20 November, 2000. Available http://csis.pace.edu/grendel/projs993d/main.htm
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