Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. author is anonymous written c . 1400 in Middle English important in literature because it represents all of the following significant poetic genres: Arthurian romance poetry/courtly love poetry medieval alliterative poetry epic poetry.
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Wel gay watz þis gome gered in grene,And þe here of his hed of his hors swete.Fayre fannand fax vmbefoldes his schulderes;A much berd as a busk ouer his brest henges,Þat wyth his hi3lich here þat of his hed rechesWatz euesed al vmbetorne abof his elbowes,Þat half his armes þer-vnder were halched in þe wyseOf a kyngez capados þat closes his swyre;Þe mane of þat mayn hors much to hit lyke,Wel cresped and cemmed, wyth knottes ful monyFolden in wyth fildore aboute þe fayre grene,Ay a herle of þe here, an oþer of golde;Þe tayl and his toppyng twynnen of a sute,And bounden boþe wyth a bande of a bry3t grene,Dubbed wyth ful dere stonez, as þe dok lasted,Syþen þrawen wyth a þwong a þwarle knot alofte,Þer mony bellez ful bry3t of brende golde rungen.Such a fole vpon folde, ne freke þat hym rydes,Watz neuer sene in þat sale wyth sy3t er þat tyme,with y3e.He loked as layt so ly3t,So sayd al þat hym sy3e;Hit semed as no mon my3tVnder his dynttez dry3e.
A statue of King Arthur from around 1400 AD
image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Arthur3487.jpg
*see a complete list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_of_the_Round_Table
a “portrait of Gawain by artist Jackie Sullivan fromhttp://www.runtotheocean.net/sketchblog/apr03.html
Respect women. Do nothing to bring dishonor to any woman.
Protect the poor and the weak.
Honor God as a faithful Christian.Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as Arthurian romance/courtly love poetry, cont.
Characteristics of Courtly Behavior
Why is it called alliterative verse?
VERSE FORM: the "Gawain stanza"--a varying number of alliterative long lines terminated by a "bob & wheel," five short rhyming lines (ababa).
Review: Characteristics of the Epic Hero
1. He is a model of faith, loyalty, or bravery…
2. who makes a long, difficult journey…
3. to do battle on behalf of another…
4. perhaps using his own superhuman talents…
5. against an enemy who may himself have or be guarded by supernatural powers.
Review: Characteristics of the Epic Poem
1. An epic poem is a long, highly- stylizednarrative poem…
2. that recounts the exploits of its main character – the epic hero.
3. Because most epic poetry originated as sung or spoken verse, it is rigidly metered and rhymed.
He was got up in green from head to heel:a tunic worn tight, tucked to his ribs;and a rich cloak cast over it, covered insidewith a fine fur lining, fitted and sewnwith ermine trim that stood out in contrastfrom his hair where his hood lay folded flat;and handsome hose of the same green huewhich clung to his calves, with clustered spursof bright gold; (ll. 151-55)
Immediately upon reading/hearing these lines about the Green Knight who has burst into Arthur’s Christmas festivities, the audience would know that he was a guy nottobe messedwith:
In the poem, Gawain’s shield is very clearly described as a golden pentangle on a field of red. The pentangle, the poem goes on to tell us, represents Gawain’s Five Fifths.The pentangle is also called the “endless knot.”
The first of these “Five Fifths” was his faultlessness in his five senses.
Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont.The next (second) of these “Five Fifths” was his faultlessness in his five fingers.
Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont.The next (third) of these “Five Fifths” was the strength Gawain drew from his devotion to the “five wounds of Christ.”
Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont.The next (fourth) of these “Five Fifths” was the strength Gawain drew from his devotion to the “five joys of Mary.”
The five joys of Mary are also known as The Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. They are:
Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont.The last of these “Five Fifths” was Gawain’s well-known practice of the “five social graces.”
The FIFTH TEST is the temptations and the three gifts; it tests especially the fifth point of the pentangle, the social virtues. Gawain falls: his acceptance of the girdle is not a fault; his hiding of it is a potential fault; his actual withholding of it from Bertilak is his fall. Had he given it back to the lady, he would have erased his potential fault. The real fault, from Gawain's point of view, is that the reality of his own mortality induces him to break the endless knot. Thus two effects of original sin are reasserted: cowardice (bodily mortality) and covetousness (willful cupidity). His nature as a man is asserting itself against his nature as a knight.
Q: Gawain knows that he is facing certain death – and SOON – when he finally confronts the Green Knight and accepts his half of the bargain. Why would he still adhere to courtesie and resist the Lady’s temptation?