Analysis Of Sir Gawain Essay

Analysis Of Sir Gawain Essay

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains many themes. Some of these themes are more obvious than others. Love, lust, loyalty, deceit, trust, courage, virtue, and righteousness are most of the themes within the poem. There are some more that are hidden within the concepts of the ideas that the poem presents. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by John Gardner, many different themes are addressed throughout the story. The translation by John Gardner portrays these themes by using specific characters, medieval symbolism, and various settings within the story.
     Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a great work of medieval literature. The story is considered to be verse romance. There are not many solid facts on the story. The story was composed in the second half of the fourteenth century. It is likely that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written around 1375. The author of the piece remains unknown, but we do know of the northwestern dialect of Middle English with which he wrote the poem. The unknown author also consciously wrote in an old-fashioned style. The author is usually referred to as the Gawain poet or the Pearl poet. Three poems were included with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. “Pearl”, “Patience”, and “Purity” were all with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the same manuscript. This is the reason the author is named as the Pearl poet, in addition to the Gawain poet. All four poems were uniquely named Cotton Nero A.X. This is due to the manuscript’s previous owner, Sir Robert Cotton. Cotton supposedly acquired the manuscript from Yorkshire bibliophile Henry Savile (1568-1617), but its whereabouts before then are unknown (Grolier).
     Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was first edited and published in 1839 by Madden, whose entire name in uncertain. He called the untitled poem Syr Gawayn and the Grene Knyyt. The poem did not receive much attention at all until the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1916, George Lyman Kittredge’s ongoing study of the poem contained extremely valuable research of the sources and analogues of the poem. Many other authors focused on the text, language, and possible authors of the work. In the 1930s and ‘40s there was a rise of mythic criticism of the poem, as many scholars sought to interpret Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with new knowledge of medie...


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...ces, and the most complex in intention, exhibiting a subtlety of presentation and density of implication which we have only begun to appreciate.” In other words, we have only skimmed the thoughtful and meaningful intentions of the Gawain poet. We have only started to appreciate and understand the poem. All in all, there is so much more to find within the piece, more lessons to be learned, and morals to be taught.
Gardner, John. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Elements of Literature. Orlando,
     Florida: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1997: 161-172.
Gibbons, Frances Vargas. Sir Gawain’s Mentors. London, England: Landmark Press,
     1998: articles 1-2.
Samuels, Jonathan. The Gawain Poet: Criticism and Symbolism in SGGK. Ed. Harold
     Morgan. New York, New York: Johnston Press, 1987.
“Gardner, John Champlin, Jr.” The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Dallas,
     Texas: Grolier Inc. CD-ROM. Disc 1.
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Galenet. Gale research 1999
     <http://galenet.gale.com/a/acp/neta…1=50&p=1&u=a/acp/db/dama/&r=5&f=G.

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