• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss how this short passage represents the theme of shame and show the significance of that theme within Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Extracts from this document...


Transfer-Encoding: chunked Discuss how this short passage represents the theme of shame and show the significance of that theme within ?Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Throughout Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the idea of shame is explored both through Gawain?s own experiences but also through the presentation of the contrasting courts of Arthur and Bertelak, both of which the reader is drawn towards questioning the morals of by the end of poem. As this essay will discuss, it is, ironically, the grief and shame that Gawain clearly expresses in this extract that highlights the depth of his integrity and moreover the deeply flawed integrity of the court, who in prizing renown and honor more than anything else have instead been shown to have very superficial and certainly not honorable values. The poet does not seem to wholly criticize the shame-honour value system of the Arthurian court here, rather he uses the character of Gawain to show that these values are worth something but only when they are combined with strong personal integrity, which both the poet and the green knight, acting on behalf of Morgan le Fay, find severely lacking in Arthur?s court[1]. ...read more.


here as he is being presented as suffering deep internal turmoil over his shameful failure, contrasting strongly with the superficial reaction of the court[4]. As was previously mentioned, the poet does not only explore the idea of shame in relation to Gawain in this extract, but also to the entire court of King Arthur and arguably to the wider readership. Upon Gawain?s return, the other knights of the court simply react to him by ?Laughing loudly?, attempting to detract from Gawain?s shame by declaring that they will wear a similar green band to the one Gawain took from Lady Bertelak. The idea of the court as ?Laughing? is one is that explored throughout the poem. The Festival at Camelot which we are initially introduced to is described as one of ?great mirth?, whilst Arthur and Gawain are said to have ?laughed? as the Green Knight rode away from Camelot[5]. In total, the phrase ?laugh?/ ?laughter? or the present particle ?Laughing? can be found in the poem twenty-one times, suggesting that poet?s description of the court as ?Laughing Loudly? is done to demonstrate how the court has failed to change or learn as much as Gawain[6]. ...read more.


to live with the shame that came with his failure, but that the court, if they do not change their ways and values, will suffer ?disaster? in the future ? as the mythical story of Camelot tells us. Furthermore, when it is considered that the events of this poem were set up by Arthur?s half-sister Morgan le Fay, the failure of Camelot to stand up to it?s reputation as the greatest in all the land becomes even more foreboding, as the reader realizes that eventually the court, seemingly unaware of it? failings, will fall from greatness and suffer shame, pain and betrayal. ________________ [1] R Kendrick, 'Gawain?s ethics', Annuale Mediaevale, (1981), 27. [2] Keith Harrison, trans. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. by Helen Cooper Oxford World?s Classics (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008). IV: 2371- 2372 [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid. [5] Keith Harrison, trans. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. by Helen Cooper Oxford World?s Classics (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008) I: 45, 464. [6] Stevens, Martin. ?Laughter and Game in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.? Speculum, vol. 47, no. 1, 1972, pp. 65?78., www.jstor.org/stable/2851217. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Medieval section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Medieval essays

  1. Pity for the Damned. In the epic poem The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, ...

    The decision to leave the soul nameless indicates the commonality of suicide during this time period, which alludes to a misshapen society. If the Florentine people were commonly killing themselves and going against the Church, their reasons must have been grand because devotion to the Church was everything and almost mandated if one desired acceptance.

  2. Virtue and the 'endless figure' in the works of the Pearl-poet. The Pearl-poets works ...

    Later in Bertilak's castle, Gawain's dilemmas become more serious as he is tempted by the 'luflych lady': Such semblaunt to that segge semly ho made Wyth still stolen countenaunce, that stalworth to plese, That al forwondered watz the wyche and wroth with hymseluen, Bot he nolde not for his nurture

  1. The Knight's Tale and the Miller's Tale. There is no more reason for ...

    kan a noble tale for the nones, With which I wol now quite the Knyghtes Tale. Reactions to The Knight's Tale and The Miller's Tale bear out the premise that we have a 'natural desire to look for the missing link which will rationalise the discontinuity'.

  2. Dantes Divine Comedy. Discuss what you consider to be the most important allegorical features ...

    The conception of the allegory lies in the sacred writings of the Holy Bible - a passage from The Epistle of James reads 'Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

  1. Chaucers presentation of Troilus and Criseydes love reflects the insurmountable influences of the conventional ...

    Moreover, he is able to appreciate Criseyde's autonomy and afford her a status which she would not usually have. After the consummation of their love, Troilus is no longer bound by the conventions of courtly love. The celebration of love highlights how he is in love and the growth of his desire.

  2. The main characters in Le Roman de la Rose and Sir Gawain and the ...

    It is in this moment that the dissociation of the lady begins and the first thing that we come into contact with is the lady's eyes-the crystals-in the spring of Narcissus; after all love enters trough the eyes and this encounter causes in the lover "new and violent feelings [that]

  1. Free essay

    Commentary on lines 305-338 of Sir Orfeo. While at first glance the details in ...

    his wife cries, to an even more distraught Orfeo wanting to end his life because of his misery. Throughout this passage there is a repetition of the word "Allas", it is used 4 times. We also see this 4 times between lines 107-127, and also twice in lines 176 and 544.

  2. Comparing Beowulf with the Green Knight

    In other words, there was never just one, blatant solution to courtly issues. In the case of chivalry, Sir Gawain was faced with social courtesy (secular) versus Christian courtesy (religious). In the case of the Green Knight, two separate images of positivity and negativity were deliberated.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work