Sir Gawain and the Green Knight DAP project

Laura Landry Underwood

For my project I wanted to take the analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight off of Wikipedia and alter it, then post it to our classes Wiki so this would be an open forum to add and revise what I’ve added and changed to the Wikipedia entry. I chose to edit the overall idea and synopsis of the story.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'''

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written in the middle to late Fourteenth centaury. This poem is written in Middle English . This poem outlines the adventures of Sir Gawain, who is a knight of King Arthur and sits proudly at the infamous round table. This poem is seen as an alliterative poem, which means the left side of syllables matches up with each other. In this poem, Sir Gawain accepts a challenge from a mysterious warrior, who appears to be completely green. His clothes, beard, and skin are green. His eyes are the only the part of him that isn’t, they are firery red. The Green Knight offers to allow anyone to strike him with his axe if the challenger will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts, and beheads him in one blow, only to have the Green Knight stand up, pick up his head, and reminds Gawain of the pact they had made and the appointed time he would receive his part of the bargain. Although Gawain struggles to uphold his oath he faithfully demonstrates the qualities of chivalry and loyalty. His honor is questioned when the lady of the castle he serves crafts a testThe poem survives in a single manuscript, the Cotton Nero A.x., that also includes three religious pieces, Pearl, Purity, and Patience. These works are thought to have been written by the same unknown author, dubbed the "Pearl Poet" or "Gawain Poet." All four narrative poems are written in a North West Midland dialect of Middle English.[1][2] The story thus emerges from the Welsh and English traditions of the dialect area, borrowing from earlier "beheading game" stories and highlighting the importance of honor and chivalry in the face of danger. Honor and chivalry were the most important factor during time, without this a knight would never be seen as anything.

In addition to its complex plot and rich language, the poem's chief interest for literary critics is its sophisticated use of medieval symbolism. Everything from the Green Knight, to the beheading game, to the girdle given to Gawain as protection from the axe, is richly symbolic and steeped in Celtic, Germanic, and other folklore and cultural traditions. The Green Knight, for example, is interpreted by some as a representation of the Green Man of folklore and by others as an allusion to Christ.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an important poem in the romance genre, which typically involves a hero who goes on a quest that tests his ability. The ambiguity of the poem's ending, however, makes it more complex than most. Christian readings of the poem argue for an apocalyptic interpretation, drawing parallels between Gawain and Lady Bertilak and the story of Adam and Eve. Feminist interpretations argue that women are in total control from beginning to end, while others argue that their control is only an illusion. Cultural critics have argued that the poem is best read as an expression of tensions between the Welsh and English present at the time in the poet's dialect region. This poem has remained popular throughout the years, it has numerous translations, some from renowned authors such as J.R.R Tolkien and Simon Armitage. It has also been made into film and stage adaptations.


During a New Year’s feast at King Arthur’s Court, a strange figure, dressed in green from head to toe, his skin is green, and his eyes are fiery red. He is referred to only as the Green Knight. He pays King Arthur court a visit where the Green Knight challenges a person in the court to strike him once with his axe, but in turn he will return the blow in one year and one day. Sir Gawain, the youngest of Arthur's knights and nephew to the king, accepts the challenge. He severs the knight’s head in one stroke, expecting him to die. The Green Knight, however, picks up his own head and reminds Gawain to meet him at the Green Chapel in a year and a day (New Year's Day the next year) and rides away.

As the date quickly approaches, Sir Gawain sets off to find the Green Chapel and complete his bargain with the Green Knight. After many adventures and battles, Gawain, on the brink of starvation from his long journey, encounters a beautiful castle where he meets Bertilak de Hautdesert, the lord of the castle, and his beautiful wife; both are pleased to have such a renowned guest. Gawain tells them of his New Year's appointment at the Green Chapel and says that he must continue his search as he only has a few days remaining. Bertilak laughs and explains that the Green Chapel is less than two miles away and proposes that Gawain stay at the castle.

The first day, the lord hunts a herd of does and Bertilak proposes a bargain to Gawain: he will give Gawain whatever he catches, on condition that Gawain give him whatever he might gain during the day. Gawain accepts. After Bertilak leaves, the lady of the castle, Lady Bertilak, visits Gawain's bedroom to try and seduce him. Despite her best efforts, however, he yields nothing but a single kiss. When Bertilak returns and gives Gawain the deer he has killed, his guest responds by returning the lady's kiss to Bertilak, without divulging its source. The next day, after hunting the lady comes again, Gawain dodges her advances, and there is a similar exchange of a hunted boar for two kisses. She comes once more on the third morning, this time she offers him a gold ring, he refuses this so instead she insists that he takes her shawl, or girdle, Gawain accepts from her then the green silk girdle, which the lady promises will keep him from all physical harm. They exchange three kisses. That evening, Gawain gives the host two kisses and exchanges that for a boar’s head. But Gawain still keeps the girdle. New Years Day arrives and Gawain leaves for the Green Chapel with the girdle. He dons his armor and sets off to Gringolet to find the Green Knight. He finds the Green Knight at the chapel sharpening an axe. Gawain presents his neck to the knight and as arranged he bends over exposing his neck, ready to receive the blow. . The first swing, Gawain flinches and the Green Knight belittles him for it. The Green Knight swings to behead Gawain, but holds back twice, only striking softly on the third swing, draws blood, causing a small scar on his neck. The Green Knight then reveals himself to be the lord of the castle, Bertilak de Hautdesert, and explains that the entire adventure was a mere game arranged through the magical manipulations of Morgan le Fay, Arthur's mischievous sister and Gawain’s aunt. She sent the Green Knight on his errand and le Fay uses her magical powers to change his appearance. Gawain although ashamed he’s extremely relieved to be alive. Gawain is and upset, but the two part on cordial terms and Gawain returns to Camelot, wearing the girdle in shame as a token of his failure to keep his promise with Bertilak and to fully follow the rules of the game. The Knights of the Round Table, it is decreed, should henceforth wear a green sash in recognition of Gawain's adventure and to show support for his act.

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