The Green K Essay, Research Paper
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight I really enjoyed this reading. I have always loved tales of King Arthur s court and this reading is right up my alley. The story line begins with all the Round Table knights of Arthur’s court gathered to celebrate Christmas. Everything is depicted as being light and joyful, lines 37-59. I love the romantic tone of the writing, everything is so richly depicted. The feast begins with trumpets blaring, the food is brought in, they hear a noise, and a knight comes hurtling into the hall. He is unknown, of great size, but so good-looking, and entirely green. His equipment is green and gold, his horse too is green, even his very long hair is green, to say nothing of his monstrous beard. Its amazing the detail put into describing the knight, lines 136-220, I am sure many illustrations have been based on this description, wow. I have to laugh though, my first reaction was a vision of the Jolly Green Giant. Arthur s court of course reacts in bewilderment. This knight is not dressed in black or red, so is presumably not evil. He is not armed to fight, and in one hand he carries a branch of holly, but in the other he has a huge and very sharp ax, which is also decked out with ribbons of green and gold. Is this a knight, a giant, or a spirit of nature(Jolly Green Giant)? The Green Knight then explains his purpose in Arthur s court. He explains he has come to play a game, not to fight. The game involves an exchange of blows with his ax. This year if one of the knights is bold enough to give him a blow, he must be ready to take a return blow from him this time next year. The knights of the round table just sit in silence so the knight begins to mock them, lines 309-316. Arthur grabs the ax, but Gawain his nephew insists that the king is too important to take such a risk, and asks to take his place. The knight insists on his clearly stating the contract of their game, but when Gawain asks where he must go to meet him next year the Green Knight says that he will tell him after the blow. Sir Gawain duly cuts off the knight’s head, which rolls around on the floor while the body bleeds but does not fall. Instead it goes and picks up its head, jumps onto the horse, and the head then opens its eyes and tells Sir Gawain to look for the Green Chapel, which he is sure to find if he looks for it. Then knight then gallops out. I wonder at what point he put his head back on. In regards to what the Green Knight is, I am leaning towards and element of nature or at least something enchanted. I also like the idea of the knight being green in light of the regeneration of plants when cut down or back. The party then continues as if nothing much has happened. I guess this kind of incident is quite normal to the Knights of the round table.Time passes and Sir Gawain will soon have to face the Green Knight. When the time comes, he duly arms, before setting out. His armor is described heavy detail, much like that of the Green Knight s. It is very rich in imagery, lines 569-665. Gawain sets out on his journey and on Christmas Eve he attends Christmas Mass and prays. At once he sees a fine castle appear, rather like magic. I don t know why, but I can see a Disney movie coming from this story line. The castle is another item that has great attention given to it, lines 768-806. Gawain goes to the castle and is greeted the very large brown-haired lord of the castle, but luckily not green. The people are most impressed when they learn that this is the famous Sir Gawain. The beautiful lady of the castle comes to see him, accompanied by a hideous old woman. Why is the hideous old woman not introduced? On St. John’s Day, Gawain explains his quest, and the lord tells him that it is close to the house, so that he has no need to go any farther. Instead Gawain should rest while his host goes hunting. The lord then proposes an exchange of winnings: he will give Gawain what he catches in the forest, while Gawain will give him everything he receives during each day. This sounds to me like another unusual game, much like the earlier beheading game. I often wonder why characters are so blind to things that are to come.
Three days pass, each day the exchange of winnings takes place. On the first day the lord goes out and finds many deer that he kills; meanwhile the beautiful lady of the house attempt to seduce Gawain, offering herself as his servant. She taunts him and states that he is obviously not Sir Gawain, since he has not even asked for a kiss. They kiss once. In the forest, the hunters butcher the deer, bring it home, and give it to Gawain, who then in return gives the lord a kiss. Asked where he got it, Gawain says that their contract did not require him to tell.The next day the lord hunts a dangerous wild boar and the bedroom scene is repeated, beginning and concluding in a kiss. The boar is cut up and brought home to Gawain, who give the lord two kisses. On the third day the hounds go after a fox, the bedroom scene is repeated again with the lady wearing a dress that reveals much of her body. She offers herself to Gawain, and he very courteously refuses. As the lady gets ready to leave she asks for a gift, but he claims to have nothing worthy of her. She offers him a fine ring, he rejects it since he has nothing to offer in return. Then she removes a green and gold belt she is wearing, to give him, and explains that it is magic, that the man wearing it cannot be killed. I think Gawain should begin to get a bit suspicious at this time. I would be watching out for anything green this close to his quest s end. Gawain accepts the belt when thinking about the dangers of the next day. When it comes time to exchange trophies with the lord, Gawain just gives him the day’s three kisses, but not the belt, and gets the fox-skin in return. Finally, the quest has ended and Gawain sets out for the Green Chapel. Here he meets the Green Knight with his ax. They prepare, but as the ax is dropping, Gawain flinches. The Green Knight stops, and says that this cannot be Sir Gawain, who was never afraid. The second time, Gawain does not move, but the Green Knight stops the blow in order to speak. The third time the ax passes by, only lightly cutting the side of Gawain s neck. Then the Green Knight begins to explain, that the first blow was for the first day, back in the castle, the second for the second, because then Gawain had kept his contract, but on the third day he failed, and therefore he was wounded. Sir Gawain is overwhelmed with shame. He confesses his fault, the Green Knight absolves him, and laughs, inviting him back to the castle. Gawain declines blaming women for tempting men, and prefers to leave, asking only for the girdle and the Green Knight’s name. Funny, it was not the woman that lied to the Green Knight and kept the belt. The Green Knight s name is Bercilak de Hautdesert, but explains that he owes everything to Morgan le Faye, the ugly old lady back in the castle. She sent him to frighten Guinevere. Such a feat just to frighten a queen, but I don t think it was Guinevere who was messing herself when the ax blade was swinging. Gawain returns to Camelot wearing the girdle as a sign of repentance and is very humiliated. The court hears his story, and takes the girdle as a general token of valor.In conclusion, my first impulse is to ask what is the moral of our story? Don t lie to a lord when his wife is trying to seduce you? Don t accept gifts from women who seduce you? Don t go on quests when the only likely reasoning for the strife is an old hag trying to scare a queen? Well, I do not know what the moral is, or even if there is to be one, but I know I enjoyed the reading.