Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; A Romance? Essay

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; A Romance? Essay

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a poem which tells the tale of a knight who undergoes trials-testing the attributes of knighthood-in order to prove the strength and courage of himself, while representing the Knights of the Round Table. One of King Arthurs most noblest and bravest of knights, Sir Gawain, is taken on an adventure when he steps up to behead a mysterious green visitor on Christmas Day-with the green mans’ permission of course. Many would state that this tale of valor would be within the romance genre. To the modern person this would be a strange category to place the poem in due to the question of ‘where is the actual romance, where is the love and woe?’ However, unlike most romances nowadays, within medieval literature there are many defining features and characteristics of a romance-them rarely ever really involving love itself. Within medieval literature the elements of a romance are usually enshrouded in magic, the fantastic and an adventure. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight follows Sir Gawain over the course of one year, from one New Years to the next, as was the deal he and Bertilak, the green knight, struck.
Closely associated to the romance tradition are two idealized standards of behavior, especially for knights: courage and chivalry. The protagonist within many medieval romances proved their worth by going on quests, as many a knights went in those times, thus returning with great tales of their travels and deeds. Many modern people think of chivalry as referring to a man's gallant treatment of women, and although that sense is derived from the medieval chivalric ideal, chivalry could be seen as more than that. Knights were expected to be brave, loyal, and honorable-sent to protect the weak, be noble to...


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...]/ then I shall come” (193). Gawains bravery and his readiness to be of service to his King depicts the elementary understanding of what it means to be a knight; however in the end knights are only human, which is why when actually faced with death Gawains anxiety causes him to recoil from the blade of the axe.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight fit in with the concept of a romance; it has all the elements that would make one consider the text as so. The tale holds adventure, magic, a quest and an unexpected reality check that even those who are considered “perfect” are also just humans. The author used this story as a way of revealing faults in some of the aspects of knighthood through the use of intertwining chivalric duty with natural human acts; thus showing to be perfectly chivalrous would be inhuman.




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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; A Romance?

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