Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Length: 1545 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

An anonymous contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer wrote Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the 14th century. It was written in a Northern dialect and uses alliteration similar to the Anglo-Saxon form of poetry. Alliteration is characterized by the repetition of consonants and a sharp rhyme at the end of each section.

The story begins as King Arthur's court celebrates the New Year for fifteen days. The lords and ladies of the court are having a great time dancing and feasting. The story describes the lavishly served feast with all the trimmings. Each guest is free to partake in the royal meal. However, King Arthur will not eat on such a high holiday until someone tells a fascinating or adventurous tale.

LINK TO A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THIS SEGMENT

Suddenly, a giant man on a horse rides into the hall. Both the imposing man and his horse are entirely green. He is, of course, the Green Knight. Even his clothing is described in detail as entirely green. In one hand he holds a large ax and in the other he holds a holly bob. The Green Knight asks to see the leader of the crowd.


King Arthur stands up and speaks to the Green Knight, obviously excited by the thought of the tales that this stranger will tell. The Knight offers a challenge to anyone brave enough to accept it. The Green Knight will allow his opponent to strike his neck with the large ax that he holds. The opponent must travel to the Green Knight's castle in one year to accept a similar blow in return. When none of the knights volunteer, Arthur rises to accept the Green Knight's challenge. Sir Gawain, the youngest of King Arthur's knights, asks to be allowed to stand in for his king.



The Green Knight doesn't move or flinch as he offers his bare neck to Gawain. Gawain grabs the Green Knight's ax firmly and chops off his head. The head falls to the ground and rolls past the feet of many of the people in the court. To the shock of everyone, the Green Knight gets up, grabs the head by the hair, and mounts his horse.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Sep 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=41660>.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essays

- Concerns over the medieval people’s ability to faithfully endorse Christianity were echoed in medieval texts through Sir Gawain’s search for redemption. People were expected to demonstrate their unmoved faith, especially since the Church played a significant role in their lives. Sir Gawain embodies the impeccable role as an endorser of chivalry to inspire other knights which allow for open discussion about his flaws to ease iron-clad expectations. Sir Gawain is presented with a call to action in both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale” in The Canterbury Tales which is delegated by higher powers....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
1321 words (3.8 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- Knightly Character The poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, tells of one knights struggle to uphold the code of chivalry. What makes a knight a noble knight. Why does this social standard force us to hold this individual to higher expectations. What should we think about Sir Gawain when he breaks his vows in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. How does Sir Gawain and Arthur’s court pass the test of The Green Knight. This paper will argue that Sir Gawain, despite his mistakes, is the greatest knight because of his repentance and the lesson he learns when he encounters The Green Knight....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
1125 words (3.2 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]

Research Papers
782 words (2.2 pages)

Essay about Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the story of a knight of Arthur’s round table who unbeknownst to him begins a supernatural game that will test his commitment to the chivalric code. The story written sometime around 1400 is an example of a medieval romance with a noble knight venturing forth to maintain the honor of himself and his court. Knights are supposed to be examples of chivalry and since chivalry is largely based upon the church, these same men must be examples for other Christians. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, while entertaining, also teaches readers one of the hardest lessons of Christianity, that to give into the temptations of this world is the one of the shortest ways to d...   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
1082 words (3.1 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- The Arthurian romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, follows the fictional medieval life of a knight of the king’s round table. This tale is set in a time when the court is youthful, known throughout the land of Camelot, for their great honor. The protagonist, Sir Gawain, adherence to the knight’s code of conduct will be tested through a yearlong journey. This code of conduct involves the knights being chivalrous Christian men. The theme of chivalry interweaves though the tale as Sir Gawain undergoes a test to prove his worthiness to the court through a game, he is accompanied by Christian elements that strengthen him on the journey, while different interpretations of the round table’s kn...   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
1159 words (3.3 pages)

The Character of the Green Knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay

- The Character of the Green Knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight In the most general sense, the Green Knight is an anomaly to the story of " Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," the only supernatural element in what is otherwise a very believable and wholly real rendering of a specific length of time. Gawain is momentarily tricked into believing‹or, rather, hoping‹that the garter is magical in nature, but both his fear and the Green Knight dispel him of that heathen notion. Thus on the one hand the poet warns us of the danger of accepting the supernatural qua supernatural, while on the other he demands that we understand the Green Knight to be an expression of the "power of Morgan...   [tags: Sir Gawain Green Knight Essays]

Research Papers
698 words (2 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 on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - lines 491-565 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the greatest 14th century text. The poem is made up of two stories, one (the testing at Bercilak's castle) set inside the other (the beheading of the Green Knight at the beginning and the return blow at the end). The unknown author describes in the poem adventure of the brave and courageous Sir Gawain who challenges the Green Knight. The passage that starts Part II of the poem illustrates the feast given to honor Sir Gawain for his bravery and courage after he meets the first challenge of the Green Knight....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Free Essays
436 words (1.2 pages)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay

- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the greatest fourteenth century text. It was written by an unknown author between 1375 and 1400. The story begins at Christmas time, and there are many symbolic elements. The Green Knight is a color which symbolizes Christmas. Also, changing seasons and the coming of winter symbolize the passing of life and reminds us that Death is unavoidable. The author also skillfully illustrates human weaknesses in the descriptions of Gawain's temptations....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Free Essays
665 words (1.9 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]

Research Papers
656 words (1.9 pages)

Related Searches

As he rides out of King Arthur's court, he warns Gawain to remember the agreement to meet in one year at the castle of the Green Knight.



After a year has passed, Sir Gawain must prepare to leave for his journey to the castle of the Green Knight. The other knights are sad to see such a good friend and stellar knight meet with such a bitter blow. Gawain's answer to the concerns of his fellow knights demonstrates his bravery:

"Why should I tarry? In destinies sad or merry, True men can but try."

The poem describes Gawain's armor in detail. He carries a red shield that has a pentangle painted on its front. The pentangle is a token of truth. Each of the five points are linked and locked with the next, forming what is called the endless knot. The pentangle is a symbol that Gawain is faultless in his five senses, never found to fail in his five fingers, faithful to the five wounds that Christ received on the cross, strengthened by the five joys that the Virgin Mary had in Jesus (The Annunciation, Nativity, Resurrection, Ascension, and Assumption), and possesses brotherly love, pure mind and manners, and compassion most precious. The inside of the shield is adorned with an image of the Virgin Mary to make sure that Gawain never loses heart.

Sir Gawain, on his horse Gringolet, sets off on his journey to the castle of the Green Knight. He must travel through the cold of the winter and fight with many fierce creatures. He rides across the country until Christmas Eve. Gawain prays with all his might that the Virgin Mary would guide him. As soon as he crosses himself three times, a castle appears. It is described as a wonderous dwelling with a moat and many trees. The grounds are described as fair and green, in a park with a palisade of plantings. It is interesting to note that up until the day before, Gawain is traveling through the icy cold of winter.

LINK TO A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THIS SEGMENT

When Gawain reaches the castle, he is welcomed inside. He is invited to stay and celebrate the Christmas feast by the host, Bercilak de Hautdesert. At the festive meal, Gawain sits beside the host and meets the young and beatiful wife of the host as well as the old hag who accompanies her. It is clear that the older woman is held in high regard. In the evening, the host invites Gawain to chat by the fire. When the two ladies enter the room, Gawain greets the young wife with a kiss but only bows to the older woman.

After three days of celebration, Gawain wishes to leave the castle and find the Green Knight. Bercilak tells Gawain that he knows were the castle of the Green Knight is located. Gawain agrees to stay at Bercilak's castle until it is time for him to meet the Green Knight. Bercilak asks Gawain to partake in a type of contest. The two agree that the host will go hunting in the morning and return in the evening to give all that he has caught to Gawain. In return, Gawain must give all that he has caught to Bercilak.

Bercilak leaves for the hunt in the morning. The poem gives a detailed description of the hunt for deer and its slaughter. Meanwhile, Gawain sleeps comfortably in his bed at the castle. He is awakened by the young wife of the host. She attempts to seduce the chivalrous knight. Gawain is able to refuse the advances of the woman without offending her. The two exchange only a kiss and a compliment to each other. When Bercilak returns with many deer, he offers them to Gawain. In return, Gawain bestows a kiss on the host. Bercilak and Gawain agree to repeat their agreement for a second day.

LINK TO A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THIS SEGMENT

The second day's hunt is for wild boar. The hunt for this ferocious animal is described as much more difficult and dangerous. The wife of the host again awakens Gawain in his bed. This time she is dressed much more provocatively. Although the temptation is much greater, Gawain will receive only a kiss. Gawain and Bercilak exchange the prizes they have won. Once again, they agree to continue for another day.

The third day's hunt is for the sly fox. This time, the young wife of the host practically throws herself at Gawain. She is using all of her charms to seduce Gawain. Gawain is steadfast in his ability to reject the advances of the woman. She convinces him to accept a token to remember her by. She gives him a green garter that she tells him will protect him from any harm. Gawain will soon have to meet the Green Knight and decides that he could use some protection. He conceals the garter from the host when they exchange their prizes.

When Gawain meets with the Green Knight, he offers his neck as the Green Knight had done a year ago. The Green Knight lifts his ax and brings it down towards Gawain's neck. However, Gawain flinches and the Green Knight misses. The Green Knight taunts Gawain for flinching, since he didn't move a muscle when Gawain chopped off his head. The second time that the Green Knight brings down his ax, Gawain does not move a muscle. However, the ax misses his neck and does not harm him. The third blow from the Green Knight's ax merely nicks Gawains's neck. Gawain angrily rises and tells the Green Knight that he has had his chance, and that the game is over.

It is here in the poem that Gawain learns that Bercilak is the Green Knight. He also learns the reason for the three ax blows. The first blow is for meeting the terms of their agreement, the second blow is for kissing Bercilak's wife, the third blow is for Gawain's one failure in accepting the girdle. Gawain is ashamed for his acceptance of the girdle. The Green Knight forgives Gawain for his one departure from perfect chivalry and knighthood. Gawain returns to King Arthur's court wearing the green girdle as a symbol of his cowardice. The knights of King Arthur's court all pledged to wear green garters, forming the Order of the Garter.

LINK TO A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THIS SEGMENT

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is filled with magic and symbolism. Morgan le Faye and Merlin are responsible for the magic of the Green Knight. There are three literal hunts (deer, boar, and fox), three symbolic hunts (the attempts to seduce Gawain), and three hits of the Green Knight's ax. The deer is timid, the boar is ferocious, and the fox is cunning and sly. The characteristics of the animals are symbolic of Gawain and the challenges set before him.

Despite his acceptance of the garter, Gawain lives up to his reputation as the most chivalrous of the knights in King Arthur's court.
Return to 123HelpMe.com