Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Sir Gawain & the Green Knight One of the poems we read this semester was the anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This folklore poem combines two plots: the contest of the beheading between Gawain and the Green Knight and the attempt of a lady to seduce Gawain. The longest section of the poem combines the scenes of Bertilak’s hunt with those of Gawain and the lady in the bedroom. It seems we are meant to draw some sort of connection between the two events. There appears to be some kind of parallel between the hunt during the day and what happens in the bedroom that same day.

First I think Bertilak is testing Gawain to see if he can be truthful and live up to the chivalry of the Knights of the Round Table. He sends his wife into Gawain’s room every day to kiss him and he receives the same amount of kisses back. The Lord might be trying to see how truthful Gawain will be when faced with the decision about keeping his promise with the Lord and exchanging the day’s gifts and protecting his own life against the Knight. It appears that Bertilak’s wife is the bait that he is using to snare the hero, the moralistic Gawain. Perhaps it is because of his lustful reputation that Bertilak employs such a plan.

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Gawain tries to be truthful because every time the lord comes back with the hunt, in keeping his promise Gawain kisses the lord on the cheek. But he deceives the lord on the last day because Gawain receives the girdle (ironically it was green) from the lady yet does not exchange it with the lord when the Bertilak brings him the fox. It is like there is two hunts going on: the lady hunting Gawain in the bedroom and Bertilak hunting the animals in the forest. Concerning the connection between the hunt and the events in the bedroom, the book shows how Gawain is the animal being hunted. For each different animal being hunted, Gawain acts in a different way during the bedroom scene. There are three times Gawain is tempted by the lady and three times the lord goes hunting.

The hunt of the animals represents Gawain’s struggle in the bedroom. The first hunted animal was the deer. The deer was a startled, frightened animal that was on the run. It was dazed with dread as it was turned back and forth by the beaters. It was cornered just like Gawain. When the lady comes to his room the first time, he is like a frightened deer caught off guard by her seduction.

He was laying in bed where he pretended to sleep when she first came in and as she sat by his bed he got up, as startled from sleep. At the end he does give the lady a kiss, but the kiss did not appear to be anything more than a chivalrous kiss that was frequently given at that time. Therefore Gawain did past the test, and that is why he gave Bertiak the kiss when he returned from the hunt. But also Gawain could be giving the lady the kiss to tide her over just for the day, only to savoir his advance and plan for a conquest some time in the future. He did tell the lady that she was the one for him and there was no one more beautiful. The next day during the hunt, they came across a wild boar.

It was a struggle, with each time they shot it with an arrow; it did not pierce its hide. That struggle represents the same struggle Gawain had in the bedroom. The second time the lady came to his room, the fair lady is more persistent making it harder for Gawain not to sin. She talks of how he is the noblest knight of their time and every household knows of his name, yet not one word of love has come from his mouth yet. The author says, Thus she tested his temper and tried many a time,/ Whatever her true intent, to entice him to sin, (line 1549-1550).

Her tenacious attempt to seduce makes it the toughest challenge for Gawain to hold back from sin, just as capturing the wild boar was the toughest task for the hunters. It can even been seen as maybe the arrows not piercing the tough hide of the boar is the same as the attempts of the lady not braking the noble Gawain. On the third and final day, the lady comes to his room one more time while the others are on the hunt. While they are talking Gawain tells her he wishes he had his most prized possession to give to her for her deeds. She then pulls out a ring and asks him to take as a token from her. Gawain refuses saying he forgo all gifts, so she then asks him to take her green girdle and this accepts.

During the hunt they come across a fox which is the animal that the lord brings back to Gawain. A fox is animal that is seen as sly and mistrustful, which is the same way Gawain acted with Bertilak. I think the author chose the fox as the ultimate animal to be trapped because they are normally associated with deception and for being clever animals. When it came time to exchange gifts, Gawain does not give up the girdle, breaking the deal he Bertilak made. The fox during the hunt was crafty almost throwing off the hounds but was caught anyway. In the same way; Gawain was deceptive in attempting to hide the girdle but was caught by the Green Knight later (who turned out to be Bertilak).

It also can be seen that the main point of the kills on the first two days were for food, but a fox is only good for its skin. The skin can have some parallel to the girdle since it was worn on the skin of the girl. The final aspect of this poem is the constant reference to the color green. Green is usually associated with jealously. It is possible that the Green Knight was jealous of the fame for Arthur’s kingdom and how renowned his knights are. A stronger point of the color green is a conflict between Christianity and Paganism.

The Christianity part is easy to notice with Arthur’s kingdom. Gawain is faithful to God and constantly trying to push away sin. Paganism is often associated with the worship of nature, especially trees. Part of what is seen is the way the Green Knight might be an embodiment of nature. He is entirely green, like a plant, and arrives holding a holly bob, which is an evergreen; a common symbol of nature’s survival through the winter. Also, the green chapel (which is covered in vines) is actually a burrow under ground that can be seen as both a place of natural worship and a symbol of the knight’s link to earth.

So the constant referral to green can be seen as a conflict between Christianity and Paganism. Since the scenes of Berilak’s hunt and those with Gawain and the lady in the bedroom are the longest sections of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it seems obvious we are mean to draw some kind of connection between them. The hunt being seen as a reflection of the occurrences in the bedroom, and each animal representing Gawain each day seems clear. Plus the color green being interpreted as a conflict between Christianity and Paganism is important part.

Sir gawain and the green knight

In the medieval time period literature was considered a form of entertainment. The most popular type of literature as entertainment was poetry. Poetry is a way in which language is used. Language has two uses, which are to please and to teach.A poet uses language to shape it to make a form of fiction. In the poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” the unknown author uses language to create a fabulous piece of work. The story is well told but more importantly well crafted. One may look at the poem, as entertainment but the most important aspects of the poem are in its artistic designs. The three artistic designs are prosodic, narrative, and thematic. The artistic designs of the poem give it a structure and a sense of cohesiveness.

Prosodic design is the study of meter. The poem is organized in a way that all the lines contain the same structure. Meaning each line contains four stressed syllables, of the four; three begin with the same sound. According to Webster the repetition of sounds in two or more neighboring syllables is alliteration. Every line is then broken up into half lines. The line is still held together because of the alliteration. Throughout the poem this holds true. In result, the poem is bind together by the structure of the lines.

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Further more the poem is broken up into stanzas. Once again the poem is given structural unity because of this division. At the end of each stanza there is five short lines, which are separated from the rest. These lines are referred to as the bob and wheel. The first line is called the bob and the rest are called the wheel. The bob has one stressed syllable and the wheel has two syllables in each line. Also in these lines, end rhyme is incorporated. The bob and wheel separate the stanzas from one another. This is repeated throughout the poem and because of its repetition it gives the poem structure.
The largest division of the poem is by fitts. The poem is divided into four fitts. The first and forth fitts being the shortest because an introduction and ending in literature tend to be shorter than the plot.The second and third fitts are longer because the plot is told in them. In a sense the poem is balanced out by fitts one and four being smaller than fitts two and three.

The second artistic design is narrative design. Narrative design is the way in which the plot is structured.In order for a poem to have good narrative design the plot must be equally divided. In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” it is quite evident the author did that. The plot of the poem can be told like this; fitt one Gawain accepts the challenge of the green knight, fitt two Gawain accepts Lord Bertilak’s challenge, fitt three Gawain fails in faith to Lord Bertilak, fitt four Gawain fails in courage in his encounter with the green knight. All this leads up to Gawain returning to Arthur’s court showing humility for his unfaithfulness.
The last artistic design present in the poem is thematic design. Two themes portrayed in the poem are courage and fidelity. The theme dealing with courage begins in fitt one when Gawain stands up and accepts the green knights challenge and ends in fitt four when he fails in courage in his last encounter with the green knight. The theme of fidelity begins in fitt two and ends in fitt three.Because of these divisions the poem is well balanced and is considered having excellent thematic design.
The artistic designs in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” all contribute to the cohesiveness of the poem. In every aspect the poem is well structured. The use of language is organized in a way that one can say is a portrait of human greatness.
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Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a masterful early-English romance. Including both the fantastic (i.e. the green knight), tradition (i.e. Arthur’s court) and adultery, the story touches upon important parts of entertainment, even today. The constant alliteration was key in creating such an enjouable piece of literature. I also enjoyed the daring, detailed decriptions such as those from line 130 to 150, on the stature of the Green Knight. Although the vocabulary was somewhat difficult, I enjoyed it, as I am one of many students who needs to improve my vocabulary.

Symbolism ran rampant through the story, as well. I enjoyed the use of the color green, most. The Green Knight was obviously evil and abundantly green. Since green was also used to describe the Spring season and life, I believe that the abundance of it is just like the evil of overindulgence in life at that time. The abundance of green could have also been a reference to knowledge (i.e.

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the Tree of Knowledge n the Garden of Eden), and therefore a hint at the central message of the story: the lack of self or personal thought. The abundant references to religion emphasized the theme, as well. Each religious word was directed at the notion that a person’s place in the world or community was predetermined; introspection was not allowed or needed. The only thoughts necessary were those of obedience to God, King and country. Gawain’s personal introspection about the value of his own life over his knightly duties (or honor) suggested that, for the first time, these ideas of self were coming into play. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was a wonderful story, and I enjoyed it thoroghly.

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