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Layers of Influence (Sir Gawain & the Green Knight)

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Jessica Saxon

on 10 January 2013

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Transcript of Layers of Influence (Sir Gawain & the Green Knight)

Violent battles
Beowulf French romances Opposite of Germanic epics
Audience: male and female members of the court (though often mostly women)
Female characters take on a larger role in these stories (entire plot of Gawain centers around the actions of Morgan le Faye)
Still focused on the actions of knights and heroes—but knights and heroes are more often motivated by a woman’s love than by personal glory and wealth Arthurian romances Arthur and his court
Process of rebuilding society and culture after the Fall of Rome and the barbaric invasions
Process of maintaining (or expanding) Christianity
Basic story elements
Hero is called to a journey to face good and evil forces
Hero is faced with morally ambiguous situations and must make difficult choices
Hero must return to court and report his actions; hero’s comrades learn from the hero’s adventures
Older Arthurian romances
Younger court
Gawain (Arthur's nephew) as lead knight
Lancelot as a later (French) addition Layers of Influence Ms. Saxon
ENG 243 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight The beheading game Common folklore genre
Supernatural challenger offers to let his head be cut off in exchange for a return blow to the hero
Challenger is usually beheaded but then reclaims his head
Hero is given a set amount of time to find the challenger and receive his blows German Epics Quest narratives Hero leaves home
Hero faces and overcomes challenges
Hero is assisted by others (often supernatural others)
Hero mostly relies on himself—and refines his character through the challenges
Hero undergoes a significant change while awayHero returns home Courtly love Relationship between a knight and a woman of the court
Modeled on the relationship between a knight and his lord
Knight serves his lady with the same obedience and submission he serves his lord
Woman is in control of the relationship
Love inspires the knight to great deeds
Focus of the relationship = acknowledging love (not consummating the relationship)Knight and/or lady are described as being sick with love
Remember: marriages are not based on love at this time Chivalric code From "The Song of Roland"
To fear God and maintain His Church
To serve the liege lord in valor and faith
To protect the weak and defenseless
To give succor to widows and orphans
To refrain from the wanton giving of offense
To live by honor and for glory
To despise monetary / material reward
To fight for the welfare of all
To obey those placed in authority
To guard the honor of fellow knights
To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
To keep faith
At all times to speak the truth
To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
To respect the honor of women
Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
Never to turn the back upon a foe Christianity Sorceresses
Magic
Giants
Nature worship Prayers
Religious ceremonies
invocation of God & the saints Paganism British nationalism Building a nation
Creating a national literature / myth
Full transcript