An analysis of the folk poem sir gawain and the green knight

Great wonder grew in hall At his hue most strange to see, For man and gear and all Were green as green could be. After the fall of Troy, we are told, various heroes left to build cities. This brief introduction ends with the poet telling us he will relate a story he heard told in a hall about a great Arthurian adventure. The knights of the Round Table join Arthur in the holiday celebrations, and Queen Guinevere presides in their midst.

An analysis of the folk poem sir gawain and the green knight

The knight says he has not come to visit, but to test Arthur's knights, who are famed as the best on earth. He asks instead for a Christmas game: He will trade a blow for a blow. If any man is brave enough to strike the Green Knight with his ax, he will give that man the ax to keep.

However, that man must agree to receive the same stroke back in a year's time. The knights do not respond, and the green rider jeers at them. Angered, Arthur accepts the challenge and takes the ax, but Gawain asks to be given the task, saying that it is unseemly for the king to do it.

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Arthur gives him the ax. The Green Knight reminds Gawain of the terms of their agreement. The knight kneels down, and Gawain chops off his head. The Green Knight picks up his head and gets back on his horse.

He tells Gawain to look for the Green Chapel, and then rides out of the hall.

An analysis of the folk poem sir gawain and the green knight

Arthur masks his amazement by saying that the event was an entertaining interlude. They hang the ax on the wall and continue the feast. Analysis The knight's challenge of a blow for a blow draws on a well-known motif from Celtic legend. Two versions of the "beheading game" appear, for example, in "Briucriu's Feast," a tale of the Irish hero Cuchulainn.

In the most important of the two, usually called the "Champions' Bargain," an uncouth giant comes into the hall and challenges one of the heroes to chop off his head that night, if he can then chop off the hero's tomorrow.

After one agrees, the giant picks up his head and walks away. The hero stays away the next day, as do several others, but Cuchulainn keeps his end of the bargain, and the giant responds by striking him with the blunt side of the ax, so that Cuchulainn is not harmed. Similar beheading challenges occur in Arthurian literature as well, specifically the French romances Le Livre de Caradoc and Perlesvaus.

The year's delay for the exchange also has Celtic precedent. In the Welsh legend "Pwyll," found in the Mabinogion, Pwyll has to pay a debt to the hunter Arawn, the king of the underworld, for Pwyll's discourtesy during a hunt.

Arawn and Pwyll magically swap appearances and take each other's places for a year and one day. Although relying on Celtic and French source material, the Gawain-poet does not simply rehash it.

Instead, in the best medieval fashion, he appropriates it for his own purposes, subtly altering it to give it a new context and meaning. The Green Knight is brash and a little rude in proposing his game.

When Arthur's knights — understandably puzzled by this bizarre creature's offer to let someone cut off his head — do not respond to the challenge, the Green Knight rolls his eyes and laughs, mocking them as cowards. In contrast, when Gawain finally speaks up, he is all politeness and modesty.

His elaborate speech is strenuously deferential, as he humbly asks permission even to leave Guenevere's side. He takes pains not to call attention to himself or to seem vain in taking the challenge away from Arthur, protesting that so foolish a matter should fall upon the weakest and most foolish member of the court.

Arthur's nephew Gawain is in fact one of the strongest and bravest at the feast, but here we see him living up to his legendary reputation as the most courteous of Arthur's knights. It included sincere humility, gracious manners, kindness, and respectful treatment of others, even those below one's social station, and especially women.

Gawain's acceptance of Arthur's task also makes him effectively the representative of Camelot and the Arthurian ideal itself. The poem makes constant reference to games, laughter, and entertainments, and nearly all the action takes places at the holidays, when gifts are exchanged.

The Green Knight insists that he has not come to fight but to play a game, and a Christmas game at that. Yet if you compare this game to the light-hearted kissing games the court had been playing earlier in the day, the stakes seem frighteningly high.

It soon becomes clear to the court that Gawain will have to give up his life rather than just a few kisses — although kisses will figure again in the game before it ends. If the beheading really is a game, perhaps the Green Knight's challenge is actually a kind of exchange of gifts.This ablility is similar to that of the Green Knight in Sir Gawain and Green Knight.

An analysis of the folk poem sir gawain and the green knight

The Pearl Poet’s Sir Gawain the Green Knight, a tale about the arrival of a strange green knight at the christmas dinner of King Arthur’s court. We'll go over some quick medieval history to situate some of the major literary works of the time period.

We're going from Caedmon and Beowulf, writing in Old English, all the way up to Sir Thomas. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Middle English: Sir Gawayn and þe Grene Knyȝt) is a late 14th-century Middle English chivalric romance.

It is one of the best known Arthurian stories, with its plot combining two types of folklore motifs, the beheading game and the exchange of Poem, chivalric romance, Arthurian and alliterative verse.

Theories of Mythology - Theories of Mythology The definition of mythology is derived from the word “myth”. The word itself is developed from the Greek word “mythos”, which means sagas, legend, or fable. Free honesty papers, essays, and research papers.

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English poem, c. 14 th century. The following entry presents criticism from to on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. For more information on the work, see CMLC, Volume 2. Christmas Eve.

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