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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Transcript of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Knight's Quest vs. Hero's Journey
Trickster Temptress Mentor
Christian and Pagan elements
The hero embarks on a journey in search of some sort of truth to help save their kingdom.
The Hero faces a series of steps where (s)he faces triumphs over challenges.
Someone who plays tricks and exhibits unconventional behavior
Is one to whom the protagonist is attracted and who ultimately brings about his downfall
The hero’s guide or guiding principles
The Green Knight proposes a challenge only he can win
The wife of the castle tempts Sir Gawain
Doesn’t necessarily cause his downfall, but causes him shame
Through a series of trials the Green Knight teaches Gawain of honesty and true knightliness
represents growth - the Green Knight helps Sir Gawain grow as a person by teaching him the importance of honesty
relates the story to the bible and life - Holy Trinity, land was separated form the waters on the third day, (represents completion/unity), past/present/future, man/woman/child, solid/liquid/gas
Gawain follows all steps of the Hero's Journey.
Ordinary world: The story starts off with a typical Christmas feast with the Knights of the Round Table.
Call to Action: Arthur being challenged but Gawain taking it and cutting the head off of the knight.
Refusal to the call: Gawain is very hesitant about going to the Green Chapel.
The Mentor: Gawain receives counsel from many other heroes.
Crossing the Threshold: Gawain accepts his quest.
Tests: Gawain encounters boars, wolves, dragons and other creatures on his Journey as well as bad weather.
Enter the Cave: Gawain is asked to stay at a mysterious Knight's home.
Supreme Ordeal: Gawain is tempted by the knight's wife but acts chivalrously to her advances.
Reward: He is given a magic green girdle in reward for acting like a true knight as well as animal skins.
The road back: He keeps going to find the green chapel.
Resurrection: The Green knight reveals himself and tells Gawain his name. He tells Gawain of his deception and shames him for not acting like a true knight would and give back the gifts he had received. So Gawain has his neck cut.
Return: Gawain comes back to King Arthur's court and tells his story.
Gawain believes the Green Knight to be a threat to Camelot. If he does not go to the Green Chapel like the knight told him he believes that something bad will happen to the court he protects. Gawain himself is hesitant about going but knows that it is his duty to go. He seeks the truth of the Green Knight.
Even after reading the story and having doubts about the 'knight's code', the poet upholds Christian faith as the ultimate, saving grace for humanity. Gawain constantly finds guidance in God: from the image of the Virgin Mary on the inside of his shield to his prayers while journeying alone, to his narrow escape from the adulterous temptations of Lady Bertilak. It is faith in God which enables mankind to negotiate between the dangers of human society and the dangers of the natural world. To affirm this, the poem concludes with Gawain begging to Jesus Christ, the Savior.
Despite its Christian message, the poem has strong roots in Celtic Pagan myth. The knight himself can be seen as a strongly Pagan character. Gawain's journey can even be seen as the hero's archetypal encounter with the other world, an essential theme in Pagan belief. The pentangle is often a Pagan symbol; thus Gawain's shield, with a pentangle on one side and the Virgin Mary on the other, comes to present the Pagan/Christian nature of the poem.