Sir Gawain and the Green Knight So what kind of story is this? Its a ROMANCE (but not like the movie The Notebook or Sweet Home Alabama). ROMANCE: a narrative set in a world of pure wish fulfillment
superhuman heroes fight and almost always conquer the forces of evil the hero undertakes a hard journey in search of something valuable (a questremember that?) Main Characters King Arthur (ever heard of him?):
Legendary king of Britain Husband of Guinevere Uncle of Gawain Over the famous Knights of the Round Table at Camelot Brave, courageous, chivalrous
Main Characters Sir Gawain: Arthurs nephew and one of the most loyal, brave knights Follows the chivalrous code (humility, piety, integrity, loyalty, honesty) Courtly lover
One flaw: loves his life so much that he will lie to protect it (obviously breaking the code) Main Characters The Green Knight: Yeshe is a green man. Huge guy with big muscles/carries a huge axe
Says he comes in friendship but proposes that someone step forward to play the beheading game. Expects the knights to be courageous and step forward to play. Other Characters
Lord and Lady of the castle where Gawain stays for Christmas (The lady tries to seduce Gawain every day he is there.) Queen Guinevere: Arthurs wife and queen Major theme Chivalry: The world of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is governed by well-defined codes of behavior. The
code of chivalry, in particular, shapes the values and actions of Sir Gawain and other characters in the poem. The ideals of chivalry come from the Christian concept of morality. Major Theme Arthur's court depends heavily on the code of chivalry,
and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight gently criticizes the fact that chivalry values appearance and symbols over truth. Arthur is introduced to us as the most courteous of all, indicating that people are ranked in this court according to their mastery of a certain code of behavior and good manners. You call yourself brave? When the Green Knight challenges the
court, he mocks them for being so afraid of mere words, suggesting that words and appearances hold too much power over the company. Hidden theme? Appearance vs. Reality The members of the court never reveal their true feelings, instead choosing to seem beautiful, courteous, and fairspoken.
Major Themelesson learned Gawain learns as a result of the Green Knight's challenge is that, at a basic level, he is just a physical being who is concerned above all else with his own life. Chivalry provides a valuable set of ideals toward which to strive, but a person must above all remain conscious of his or her own mortality and weakness.
Bummer---Im only human! Gawain's faults throughout this story teach him that though he may be the most chivalrous knight in the land, he is nevertheless human and capable of error. Common archetype in literatureone who strives too high Setting up the story
During a New Year's Eve feast at King Arthur's court, a strange figure, referred to only as the Green Knight, pays the court an unexpected visit. He challenges the group's leader or any other brave representative to a game. The Green Knight says that he will allow whomever accepts the challenge to strike him with his own axe, on the condition that the challenger find him in exactly one year to receive a blow in return.
Setting up the story Stunned, Arthur hesitates to respond, but when the Green Knight mocks Arthur's silence, the king steps forward to take the challenge. As soon as Arthur grips the Green Knight's axe, Sir Gawain leaps up and asks to take the challenge himself. He takes hold of the axe and, in one deadly blow, cuts off the knight's head.
To the amazement of the court, the nowheadless Green Knight picks up his severed head. Before riding away, the head reiterates the terms of the pact, reminding the young Gawain to seek him in a year and a day at the Green Chapel.
After the Green Knight leaves, the company goes back to its festival, but Gawain is uneasy..and away we go from there! Turn to page 210 in your literature books for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Reading Check
1. What is a destrier? 2. Who is the head of the Round Table? 3. What is the challenge at hand? 4. Define: chivalry. 5. What characteristic of a romance is
illustrated by the knight having survived the blow? Quiz--continued 6. Who is the antagonist in this poem? 7. Who offers to accept the challenge? 8. What does this knight say to convince the king to step aside? 9, What is the name of the kingdom? 10. On what day does the antagonist expect to have his turn?
Moral/themes- appearance vs. reality; hypocrisy/covenants/most courteous of all Figurative languagealliteration, onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, assonance, consonance
Figurative language? Stepped into stirrups of steel and, striding aloft (166) Shining fat and slit it in two (156) Beardless babes about this bench (62) Your the finest man that ever walked the earth (355) Courtesy is in flower in this court (45) Good, youve got your heart back (288) Hyperbole
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