Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: The audience, the Pentangle and the Green Sash Although some early manuscripts of the poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' still exist, nothing, beyond speculation, is known about the poet, which is a pity when considering its rich language and imagery. Believed to have been written between 1375 and 1400, and some 2500 lines long, the unknown poet blent a unique mixture of chivalry, the Beheading Game and the temptation of a knight called Sir Gawain into probably the best example of an Arthurian romance. In this essay, the alliterative language and style of this poem will be seen to reflect the period and place that it was written as well as the audience for whom it was intended. With reference to the 'Sir Gawain' text, the use of the pentangle and the green sash, representing truth and untruth will be studied. Together, they will be shown to fit within the major theme of the whole poem. Particular attention will be paid to how these emblems might have been interpreted by the court audience of that period. 'Sir Gawain' was written in local dialect and its language ...'contains many harsh-sounding words of Norse origin...' (Stone, 1974 p 10). Partly because of the characteristics of the dialectic text, it has been placed as having been written in the north-west midlands, probably Shropshire. The poet also shows knowledge of a particular
Relationships There are many types of relationships that people have. A relationship is defined as a state of being related or interrelated. The three main themes, or relationships discussed are our relationship with the supernatural, our relationships with each other, and our relationship with the self. The first relationship is the relationship that we have with the supernatural. In the text Paradise Lost by John Milton, it shows us the relationship between Satan, God, and humans. The story mainly takes place with Satan coming down to Eden to get revenge. It begins out by showing the consequences of Adam and Eve's disobedience by eating the forbidden fruit. "Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe, with loss of Eden, till one greater Man..."(Paradise Lost, p. 3001). This shows the relationship with the supernatural by showing how Adam and Eve disobeyed God's orders of not to eat from the forbidden tree and they did and then Satan came down to Eden to be revenged on men. Satan once lived in happiness; he was full of joy, and surrounded by pleasure. After he had forsaken God, he was punished for his unfaithfulness to the worst extremes. That is why he has come back to get revenge on God by hurting Adam and Eve, God's creations. If you believe in God and follow him and obey
'That doom abided, / but in time it would come' (Beowulf, lines 83-4) Discuss the theme of fate / destiny in these texts.
'That doom abided, / but in time it would come' (Beowulf, lines 83-4) Discuss the theme of fate / destiny in these texts. It is indeed immediately evident to the reader (or listener) of Beowulf, that the poem is heavily laden with themes of fate and destiny. I would even go as far as saying that it is partly the weight that these themes lend that gives Beowulf its rich and beautiful quality. These themes are present throughout the text, for instance the creation of Heorot comes with the prophecy of its doom, with "its gables wide and high and awaiting / a barbarous burning" (lines 82-3). We are also given the cause for such a fate, namely blood feud between in-laws. The inevitable doom associated with blood feuds, and its associated fratricide, is also present at the end of the text with the wild prediction of the war and destruction of the Geat nation at the Shylfing's hands. It is also interesting to note here that the poem is book ended by funerals, death being the inevitable conclusion of fate, and also with prophecy, particularly effective for a contemporary audience knowledgeable of the outcomes of such prognostications. However, it is in the episode of Beowulf's fight against the dragon that we see the most signposted manifestation of fate: He was sad at heart, Unsettled yet ready, sensing his death. His fate hovered near, unknowable but certain (2419-2421)
Think of this poem in terms of its storytelling - Were you surprised at the end? What clues are given to the identity of the Green Knight? How does the poet use description effectively? What is artful about the patterning of the action?
4. Think of this poem in terms of its storytelling. Were you surprised at the end? What clues are given to the identity of the Green Knight? How does the poet use description effectively? What is artful about the patterning of the action? In terms of storytelling, this poem is one of the most masterful ones I have ever read. The author (or perhaps Keith Harrison) manages to bring the reader into the poem by taking a story that could have been unremarkable and adding a fantastic twist at the end, but that was not completely unexpected as there were a plenty of hints provided along the way. At the end, I was definitely surprised, but not to the point where I did not understand the story. There is a twist, and a big one at that, but not so extreme as to leave the reader dumbfounded and questioning the poem. Of course, no one would have expected the Green Knight to have also been the host of the castle, or to have been the husband of Gawain's seductress. However, subtle hints are provided that leave some doubt in the reader's mind as to who the Green Knight really is, in addition to himself. The biggest (yet subtle) hint is the green girdle that is given to Gawain by Bertilak's wife. Being green, the girdle links itself to the Green Knight, though the reader may not realize this until after finishing the poem. As aforementioned, the end is unexpected, but the Green Knight's
Robin Brown English 20 Michelle Karnes University of Pennsylvania King Arthur and his court were described as chivalrous, noble, courageous, and honorable. They were held to very high ideals and described almost to the height of perfection. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, we will witness this reputation they hold so dear, be challenged and diluted. Sir Gawain will act as an ambassador of this personification of excellence that we know as King Arthur and his court, and he will be put to the ultimate test, that of character. In Part I of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, we are introduced to King Arthur and his court. King Arthur is described to us as "most courteous of all" (l.26) among British Kings, which is an indication of his greatness and his court is reveled as the most courteous, courageous, and noble knights throughout Britain. The Green Knight describes them mockingly in lines 309-315: "What, is this Arthur's house," said that horseman then,/"Whose fame is so fair in far realms and wide?/Where is now your arrogance and your awesome deeds,/Your valor and your victories and your vaunting words?/Now are the revel and renown of the Round Table/Overwhelmed with a word of one man's speech,/For all cower and quake, and no cut felt!" Immediately we are alerted to the weakness of the court when the Green Knight proposes his challenge. Not one knight rises to
Two Different Heroes: A contrast between the ideals in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf A hero must always possess certain qualities such as bravery and honor, but the nature of heroism can vary greatly. Although superficially, some heroic figures may seem to be very different, these differences are accounted for because of the differences between the societies they lived in. The characters Beowulf, from Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney, and Gawain, from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by Burton Raffel, the differences between Gawain's and Beowulf's heroism lie in the reasons for their bravery, the nature of their struggles, and their heroic codes, yet all of these differences can be explained in terms of their respective societies. In Beowulf, Beowulf makes a show of boasting his past deeds, as a form of self-advertisement. "...all knew of my awesome strength. / They had seen me bolstered in the blood of enemies / when I battled and bound five beasts, / raided a troll-nest in the night-sea / slaughtered sea-brutes" (Heaney, pg. 29). For Beowulf, heroic accomplishments are a way of proving himself in the eyes of others, and the reason for his bravery is the fame that he achieves. This is also seen when Unferth accuses Beowulf of vanity because of a competition with Breca, and then tells Beowulf that he will not succeed in his battle with Grendel.
Robin Brown 7-23-03 Michelle Karnes English 20 The Threat of Seclusion Sir Gawain, the hero in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, has a reputation of being chivalrous, courteous, brave, and honorable in his dealings with others. This reputation serves as Gawain's identity for those around him, but more importantly, it serves as Gawain's sustenance. With all of the many life-threatening challenges in his travels to find the Green Chapel, the most threatening thing to Gawain is solitude. In solitude, there is no one to receive his chivalry or honorable actions and there is no one to admire his bravery; Gawain's reputation, the very thing that sustains him, is insignificant. Sir Gawain's knightly ways are immediately evident in Part I of the poem. His bravery and loyalty are demonstrated when he requests to take King Arthur's place for the Green Knight's challenge. This outward display of knightly values coupled with Gawain's humility possibly explains Gawain most completely. He says to Arthur and the court, "I am the weakest, well I know, and of wit feeblest And the loss of my life would be least of any; That I have you for my uncle is my only praise; My body, but for your blood, is barren of worth;" (l.354-357) Although, in accepting the challenge and outwardly appearing knightly, his words speak more to how he truly feels about himself. Gawain must always
Bryan J. Tanner December 19, 2002 Grendel Interpretation Grendel: The Hero of His Own Story? The hero in the story of Grendel is not defined as a particular person; rather, it appears Grendel has undertones of a hero in himself from his point of view. Since Grendel is telling his own life story, his pattern of thinking and logic must be unwoven to discern whether or not everything that he tells us is believable. This does not mean that he is completely wrong or completely right, however. What it does mean, though, is that the point of view that the story is told is biased to Grendel. One standpoint other than Grendel's which should be taken into account is the humans'. Their feelings about him were that he was not only the enemy, but that he was the definition of evil. After all, he ate several of their fellow men, not to mention the fact that he was a hairy beast that crept around the mead hall and wasn't able to be pierced or cut. To humans, often times, irregularity and uncommonness is just as much of a threat as an enemy itself. From the beginning of written history, different ethnic backgrounds, religious groups, or sexual orientations have been a very large part of arguments and even wars. To the people, Grendel was a threat to their well being before he ever attacked, killed, or ate a human. It should also be taken into perspective Beowulf's point of
Sarah Pathammavong October 15, 2002 Brit. Lit. 3b "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" vs. "Beowulf" Many of the characters of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are similar. Both stories have the same basic concept of a hero and a monster a type of good vs. evil plot. And each character has in each story has a side by side character. Such as the main characters of both stories. Sir Gawain, in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", and Beowulf, in "Beowulf, are the heroes of their stories. They were the ones that came out on top. Even though both are heroes their heroic traits are different at times. They are both loyal to their lord and both of them are brave enough to take the any challenge. Beowulf shows the trueness of a perfect hero, a knight that shows no fear. Sir Gawain on the other hand has faults he does not have the whole of being a perfect hero. He does not have a glorious background as to Beowulf who defeats seas full of monsters to save others. Though Sir Gawain does prove that he has some courage, for he takes up the challenge against the Green Knight. Beowulf has unlimited courage, he takes up any challenge and shows no sign of being frightened at anytime. Yet when Sir Gawain is put up to his challenge he flinches with fright, but then after calming down he realizes his position and takes on what he has vowed he would do. His flinching shows how he fails to be a
30/03/01 BEOWULF Silence in the hall dark and deeper, another night for the men. One of the feasters sleeping in Heorot was doomed and soon to die... Grendels mother was worried that he had not come home for his supper, she comes out of her cave and shouts," Grendel, honey where are you? " The tree leaves moves and the voice echoes throughout the moors, still Grendel was no where to found or heard. Meanwhile back in the forest the party began. A huge fireplace was lit up surrounded by a table full of piping hot chicken, turkey and some beers. There was a delightful and cosy atmosphere. The feasters congratulated Beowulf on his victorious killing of Grendel. It was nearly midnight; suddenly the ground was shook just like an earthquake. The Geats bounded out of their chairs and ran to get their sharp and shiny spears, daggers swords and hot flaming torches. They put on their armour and looked around to see what had made the ground shake. Grendels mother Sheba appeared, She was as tall as a giraffe and so ugly that a mirror could shatter into millions of pieces. She was hairy, dirty and smelt like manure. Sheba had paws as sharp as a lion's and the look of a tiger targeting its prey. She looked as furious as the flaming orange/red fire reflected in her eyes. She started attacking the Geats. The atmosphere suddenly changed, it