Camelot: The Archetypal EnvironmentIn Sir Gawain

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Camelot is the most ideal setting because it is has extravagant richness and fame, a structured hierarchy and, most of all, is the familiar, welcoming environment which Gawain ultimately chooses. Arthur's fame is world renown as it is compared with the Roman Empire or the great city of Troy for of "all that here abode in Britain as kings / ever was Arthur most honored" (20). Arthur and his Round Table contribute to "merriment unmatched," (20) and during the festivities, the citizens of Camelot enjoyed themselves with "all the meats and all the mirth that men could devise" (20). Camelot earns the title "under heaven first in fame," (21) for such a courteous and virtuous king with such loyal knights is an honor which should be given due respect. The days are filled with joyful dancing, gift exchanging, and amusing kissing games and the generous king and queen sit "ever the highest for the worthiest" (21) with good Gawain at the lady's side.

King Arthur invites all, including the Green Knight, with generosity and respect. Yet, when the Green Knight insists on playing the Beheading Game, Gawain is quick to prevent Arthur from risking his life. This shows that regardless of the carefree and festive environment, Gawain is never forgetful of his first duty. All the activities at Camelot follow a strictly defined code. Whether the code be one for loyalty to the lord, for chivalry or for how to treat a guest, it is clear and easy to recognize. Camelot has an abundance of positive qualities which combine to form the model setting.

As the model setting, Camelot also lacks many of the unattractive qualities of Lord Bertilak's castle and the Green Chapel. First, everything that appears to be true and innocent in Camelot is, in fact, openly real. Camelot cannot be deceptive like Bertilak's castle and everything from the hierarchy to the honest welcomes has no alternate meaning or motive. Unlike the Green Chapel, visitor's can only view the castle in a beautiful and positive manner as "all happiness at the highest in halls," (20) incapable of distortion or misconception. The rules are clearly defined just like at the other two settings but unlike the rules of the Exchange of Winnings, there is no hidden intent. The illogical hierarchy of Bertilak's castle is not present and one can easily see that the most noble, virtuous, and beautiful sit the highest where they belong. No one is intimidated by each other and when the Green Knight enters he is recognized as "the mightiest on the middle-earth" (23) but not feared. People's intentions are not misconstrued as is possible in the Green Chapel and each respectable man gets his due respect. Gawain leaves Camelot not with the shameful girdle, but rather with the prestigious pentangle which he deserves. Camelot is the most favorable because it does not exhibit any of the poor qualities which are evident in the other two settings and, therefore, is the most appealing environment.

Camelot succeeds in being the most attractive and superior setting of all three which Gawain visits due to main attributes. The unattractive qualities are absent in Camelot while providing a most comfortable environment. Only an environment filled with pure utopian qualities such as those of Camelot, can be considered archetypal and ideal.