I wanted to dump this here about a month and a half ago, but forgot about it. So here it is:

“Sir Gawain and the
Green Knight”

 

            Well known
sources state that: “In…literature, ‘Romanticism’ typically refers to the late
18th century and the 19th Century” (“Romanticism”.) There are several elements
characteristic of this literary movement: “a near perfect hero, an evil enemy,
a quest, a test of the hero, supernatural elements, good vs. evil, and female
figures who are usually maidens (in need of rescue), mothers, or crones” (Elements of Literature Sixth Course
167.) The short story, Sir Gawain and the
Green Knight
, demonstrates all of these elements of romance.

            Like all
people, Sir Gawain was not without flaws. Although an immaculately virtuous
knight by his nature, by the end of the story, Gawain was found spitting
vitriolically, “Cursed be cowardice and covetousness both, Villainy and vice
that destroy all virtue!” (Gardner 165.)
Gawain is found cursing himself for breaking the pact to which he agreed to: to
give anything that he has won to the lord of the castle. The sole item he
refused to return to the lord was the last item that the woman of the castle
gave to him, a green sash that supposedly granted invulnerability. This is
presumably because he was afraid of his encounter to be with the Green Knight; he
feared for his very life. After his encounter with the Green Knight, “Gawain
admits his breach of contract in having kept the green girdle and promises to
wear the girdle as a banner of his weakness” (“Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight”.) In this way, Sir Gawain demonstrates that although he is a great hero,
he is not without his flaws, and thus, not perfect.

            The evil
enemy in this short story is embodied through the Green Knight. A being
possessing supernatural abilities unbeknowest to our hero Sir Gawain, the Green
Knight is the main antagonist in this story. Posing a challenge to the knights
of the Round Table to “exchange one blow for another” (Elements of Literature Sixth Course 158,) the Green Knight finds
his challenger in Sir Gawain, who valorously swings at The Green Knight’s head,
decapitating him. To everyone’s shock, he is not fazed. The Green Knight merely
picks up his disembodied head, reminds Gawain that in a year he must find him
to face the same blow, gets on his horse, and gallops off. Clearly, Gawain’s
opponent is not a figure offering goodwill. Contrastingly, he is an evil enemy.

            Gawain’s
quest in this story is one of legendary proportions; he must go on a journey
that will test his valor, courage, and strength: “Now it’s New Year’s Day.
Gawain sets off to find the Green Chapel and the dreaded Green Knight” (Elements of Literature Sixth Course
158.) A year after dealing his blow to the Green Knight, Gawain is now
obligated to seek out his enemy, and face the same blow. In this sense, the
short story fulfills the requirement of containing a quest, as well.

            Most
certainly, Gawain’s test is a rigorous one. “At the castle, Gawain’s courtesy,
chastity, and honesty are all tempted” (“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”.)
With each passing day that the lord of the castle goes hunting, the lord’s wife
attempts to seduce Gawain. For the first two days, Gawain accepts kisses from
her. On the third day, however, Gawain accepts a green sash that grants
invulnerability to its wearer. As demonstrated here, Gawain’s integrity and
adherence to the code of chivalry is tested here.

            Supernatural
elements are prevalent in the Green Knight. Although unbeknowest to Gawain, the
Green Knight is something of an invincible figure; “Before he knows that the
Green Knight has supernatural abilities, Gawain accepts the Green Knight’s
challenge to an exchange of blows” (“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”.)
Therefore, the short story includes supernatural elements by having them adhere
to the Green Knight.

            The classic
battle between good versus evil is the main centerpoint of the entire story. On
the side of good, is noble knight Sir Gawain, opposing a dark and evil figure,
the Green Knight. And, as in all stories depicting good versus evil, there is a
final standoff between the two figures in which Gawain, although not having a
victory, per se, follows through with his pact, and ends up being spared by the
Green Knight’s axe.

            The central
female figure in the story is the wife of the lord. Here, however, the female
figure is in no need of any rescuing whatsoever. Conversely, she offers Gawain
a green sash that may very well rescue him
from what he perceives as a most certain death. By the end of the story, the
wife turns from a deceitful figure out to harm Gawain into his friend, “no more
a threat against [his] life” (Gardner
165.)

            Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a
textbook example of a short story that contains every Romantic element, as per
requirement of the era. It contains a near perfect hero, an evil enemy is portrayed,
a quest is presented, a test of valor and veracity is imposed on the hero,
supernatural elements are prevalent, the battle between good versus evil
exists, and a female figure is one of the main characters in the story. 

What the fuck does Ernest Hemingway have on me?

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