Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 1996

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a Middle English romance poem written by

an anonymous West Midlands poet also credited with a lot of other poems written during

that time. The protagonist, Sir Gawain, survives two tests: a challenge, which he alone

without the assistance of King Arthur's knights accepts, to behead the fearsome Green

Knight and to let him retaliate a year later at the distant Green Chapel; and the temptation

to commit adultery with the wife of Lord Bercilak--in reality the Green Knight--in whose

castle he stays in en route to the chapel. This story is emblematic of life; how it issues

tests and challenges and the consequences rendered as a result of failing or succeeding

these challenges.

Sir Gawain is a very symbolic character; symbolic in the sense that he represents

innocence in life. He was not afraid to accept a challenge because it meant saving the

kingdom from the affects of anarchy as a result of not having a king.

Sir Gawain

accepting the challenge from the Green Knight instantly represented one of the things

that knighthood represented, fearlessness. People accept those kind of challenges

everyday. This could possibly be where the term 'sticking your neck out' could have

come from. When people accept challenges, most do not want to accept the

consequences as a result of being unsuccessful. Gawain was not like this. When the year

passed he gallantly mounted his horse and set off for the Green Chapel. This showed that

Gawain was brave. This was preceded by the warning 'Beware, Gawain, that you not end

a betrayer of your bargain through fear.'

Along this journey Gawain faces peril and self-reluctance in the form of the

elements and the never-ending search for the chapel respectively. These feeling can be

characterized as the...