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"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"

I read the classic tale "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight". I'm having trouble incorporating the story into these following questions.

1. Describe how the classic tale focuses on the importance of chivalry. Is there such an explicit code of behavior that we honor today? What role does this code play in society that mandates them? What are the dangers of having or not having such a code?

2. Do we still believe in such conventions? What parts of our society exist? Does such culture together create problems such as racisms, classicism and so on.

3. What can you understand about the King Arthur Legend. How does this legend, its grand ideas about Camelot, manifest in our society today?

4. Relate traditional fictional terms such as plot, character and setting to this tale. Are these literary terms helpful when dealing with Medieval Literature? Why or Why not?

Solution Preview

Please see response attached, which is also presented below. I also attached extra reading to increase your understanding on the different literary elements (e.g., plot, characters, etc.). I hope this helps and take care.

1. Describe how the classic tale focuses on the importance of chivalry.

The world of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is clearly 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 derive from the Christian concept of morality, and the proponents of chivalry seek to promote spiritual ideals in a spiritually fallen world. The ideals of Christian morality and knightly chivalry are brought together in Gawain's symbolic shield. The pentangle represents the five virtues of knights: friendship, generosity, chastity, courtesy, and piety. Gawain's adherence to these virtues is tested throughout the poem, but the poem examines more than Gawain's personal virtue; it asks whether heavenly virtue can operate in a fallen world. What is really being tested in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight might be the chivalric system itself, symbolized by Camelot. (1)

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. 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. The members of the court never reveal their true feelings, instead choosing to seem beautiful, courteous, and fair-spoken. On his quest for the Green Chapel, Gawain travels from Camelot into the wilderness. In the forest, Gawain must abandon the codes of chivalry and admit that his animal nature requires him to seek physical comfort in order to survive. Once he prays for help, he is rewarded by the appearance of a castle. The inhabitants of Bertilak's castle teach Gawain about a kind of chivalry that is more firmly based in truth and reality than that of Arthur's court. These people are connected to nature, as their hunting and even the way the servants greet Gawain by kneeling on the "naked earth" symbolize (818). As opposed to the courtiers at Camelot, who celebrate in Part 1 with no understanding of how removed they are from the natural world, Bertilak's courtiers joke self-consciously about how excessively lavish their feast is (889-890). The poem does not by any means suggest that the codes of chivalry be abandoned. Gawain's adherence to them is what keeps him from sleeping with his host's wife. The lesson Gawain learns as a result of the Green Knight's challenge is that, at a basic level, he ...

Solution Summary

By addressing the questions posed, this solution explores the classic tale of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" on several dimensions. Supplemented with a helpful outline of the various literary elements of literature.