In the medieval time period literature was considered a form of entertainment. The most popular type of literature as entertainment was poetry. Poetry is a way in which language is used. Language has two uses, which are to please and to teach. A poet uses language to shape it to make a form of fiction.
In the poem “Sir gawain and the green knight” the unknown author uses language to create a fabulous piece of work. The story is well told but more importantly well crafted. One may look at the poem, as entertainment but the most important aspects of the poem are in its artistic designs. The three artistic designs are prosodic, narrative, and thematic. The artistic designs of the poem give it a structure and a sense of cohesiveness.
Prosodic design is the study of meter. The poem is organized in a way that all the lines contain the same structure. Meaning each line contains four stressed syllables, of the four; three begin with the same sound. According to Webster the repetition of sounds in two or more neighboring syllables is alliteration. Every line is then broken up into half lines. The line is still held together because of the alliteration.
Throughout the poem this holds true. In result, the poem is bind together by the structure of the lines. Furthermore the poem is broken up into stanzas. Once again the poem is given structural unity because of this division. At the end of each stanza there is five short lines, which are separated from the rest.
These lines are referred to as the bob and wheel. The first line is called the bob and the rest are called the wheel. The bob has one stressed syllable and the wheel has two syllables in each line. Also in these lines, end rhyme is incorporated.
The bob and wheel separate the stanzas from one another. This is repeated throughout the poem and because of its repetition it gives the poem structure. The largest division of the poem is by fitts. The poem is divided into four fitts.
The first and forth fitts being the shortest because an introduction and ending in literature tend to be shorter than the plot. The second and third fitts are longer because the plot is told in them. In a sense the poem is balanced out by fitts one and four being smaller than fitts two and three. The second artistic design is narrative design. Narrative design is the way in which the plot is structured. In order for a poem to have good narrative design the plot must be equally divided.
In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” it is quite evident the author did that. The plot of the poem can be told like this; fitt one Gawain accepts the challenge of the green knight, fitt two Gawain accepts Lord Bertilak’s challenge, fitt three Gawain fails in faith to Lord Bertilak, fitt four Gawain fails in courage in his encounter with the green knight. All this leads up to Gawain returning to Arthur’s court showing humility for his unfaithfulness. The last artistic design present in the poem is thematic design. Two themes portrayed in the poem are courage and fidelity.
The theme dealing with courage begins in fitt one when Gawain stands up and accepts the green knights challenge and ends in fitt four when he fails in courage in his last encounter with the green knight. The theme of fidelity begins in fitt two and ends in fitt three. Because of these divisions the poem is well balanced and is considered having excellent thematic design. The artistic designs in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” all contribute to the cohesiveness of the poem. In every aspect the poem is well structured.
The use of language is organized in a way that one can say is a portrait of human greatness.