Essay PreviewMore ↓
Text Analysis: Passages 203-278
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight takes place early in the career of King Arthur. Young and naive, Arthur presides over a court that has great wealth and few problems. The Green Knight is a mysterious and magical character who presents a challenge to the pride and wealth of Arthur's kingdom. However, this challenge is not to the battle-strength of Arthur's court, but to its values.
The Green Knight disrupts a Christmas celebration taking place in Camelot, and offers a contest: an exhange of ax-strokes. Gawain takes up the contest and chops off the head of the Green Knight who survives through magical means. Gawain sets forth to accept the return blow which is to take place a year and one day from the first. While Gawain is searching for the Green Knight's chapel, he is taken in by a great lord named Bercilak who puts Gawain's honesty and integrity to the test. In parrying Bercilak's wife's attempts at seduction with gentlemanly skill, Gawain passes this moral test. Finally, we discover that the lord is in fact the Green Knight himself. Instead of being killed at the Green Knight's hands, Gawain returns to Arthur's court with a green girdle: representative of Gawain's only failure. By accepting the girdle from Bercilak's wife and not surrendering it as the wager demanded, Gawain fails in his promise. With love for his own life as his only failure, Bercilak and Arthur find little fault with Gawain, and Gawain's reputation as the most virtuous of the Knights of the Round Table remains unblemished.
The following analysis is of a passage early in the story. The Green Knight has just made an impressive entrance into Arthur's court, and is ready to issue his challenge.
The Green Knight is on his horse in Arthur’s court, and his appearance is being described. He is not wearing battle-gear, and has no armor or shield for defense. He is holding a holly bob which is a symbol of peace.
He is carrying one weapon: a huge green ax. Many lines are used to describe this awesome looking ax. It’s wound with iron and lace, and tassels and buttons of bright green hang from it.
The Green Knight rather rudely ignores all the guests and goes directly to look for Arthur, referring to him as "The captain of this crowd.
How to Cite this Page
"Sir Gawain and The Green Knight." 123HelpMe.com. 06 Dec 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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]
1321 words (3.8 pages)
- 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]
1125 words (3.2 pages)
- 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]
782 words (2.2 pages)
- 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]
1082 words (3.1 pages)
- 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]
1159 words (3.3 pages)
- 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]
698 words (2 pages)
- 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]
476 words (1.4 pages)
- 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]
436 words (1.2 pages)
- 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]
665 words (1.9 pages)
- 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]
656 words (1.9 pages)
The character of the Green Knight is so strange with his green outfit, green skin, and green horse that the entire court is in awe. They have no idea what to make of him and think he could be a phantom or faerie. They are so wonder-struck as to be "slipped into sleep, so slackened their speech" (Norton, 244). Everyone in the court waits for Arthur to speak first, some out of dread, but some also out of courtesy.
Arthur, who doesn't appear to be afraid, greets the knight with courteous words as if nothing is amiss. The Green Knight hails Arthur with somewhat rude words—"the praise of you, prince, is puffed up so high" (Norton, 258)—and comments on the great renown of Arthur’s court. He assures Arthur that he has not come for battle, "by the branch that I bear in hand" (Norton, 265), and by the fact that he is not dressed in battle gear. He says he is there for a "game," i.e., some kind of contest. Arthur responds that if a "contest bare you crave, You shall not fail to fight" (Norton, 277-278), and calls him "Sir courteous knight" (Norton, 276). While sounding somewhat facetious, it is more likely that Arthur is following a code of formal speech. Here, Arthur is telling the Green Knight that his court will not back down and will respond to any challenge the knight wishes to offer.
Line 203: "no helm, nor hauberk":
A hauberk is a medieval coat of armor, usually of chain mail.
Line 204: "nor appurtenance":
An appurtenance is apparatus or equipment, i.e., accessories. It refers to the fact that the Green Knight is wearing no battle-gear.
Line 210: "The head on its haft was an ell long":
An ell is a measurement equal to approximately an arm’s length. Another definition says it is a former English unit of measure equal to 45 inches.
Line 214: "Stout was the stave":
A stave is a stick or a staff, in this case, the staff of the Green Knight's ax.
Line 270: "And other weapons to wield, I ween well":
Ween means to "think, to suppose, to imagine." In this context, it means "I believe," as in: "I have other weapons to wield, I believe."
The Green Knight is holding a holly bob. Holly, an evergreen, is a pagan symbol used by Christians to celebrate Christmas. An evergreen was brought into the house on the winter solstice as a sign that greenery, i.e. spring, will come again. In this context, the holly bob is used by the Green Knight as a symbol of his peaceful intentions.
That the story begins on Christmas and ends on New Year’s is also significant. As holy days, they are a symbol of the portentous nature of the actions that are taking place.
The Green Knight himself is a symbol. With every article of clothing, skin, and hair colored green, he is reminiscent of a fertility god, perhaps related to wall paintings of The Green Man still found today in English churches.
Abrams, M. H. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1993.
Gawain image. Online. Internet. April 1997. Available HTTP://calvin.stemnet.nf.ca/~djohnsto/arthur/gawain03.gif