h romance poem written byan anonymous West Midlands poet also credited with a lot of other poems written duringthat time.
The protagonist, Sir Gawain, survives two tests: a challenge, which he alonewithout the assistance of King Arthur’s knights accepts, to behead the fearsome GreenKnight and to let him retaliate a year later at the distant Green Chapel; and the temptationto commit adultery with the wife of Lord Bercilak–in reality the Green Knight–in whosecastle he stays in en route to the chapel. This story is emblematic of life; how it issuestests and challenges and the consequences rendered as a result of failing or succeedingthese challenges. Sir Gawain is a very symbolic character; symbolic in the sense that he representsinnocence in life. He was not afraid to accept a challenge because it meant saving thekingdom from the affects of anarchy as a result of not having a king. Sir Gawainaccepting the challenge from the Green Knight instantly represented one of the thingsthat knighthood represented, fearlessness. People accept those kind of challengeseveryday.Order now
This could possibly be where the term “sticking your neck out” could havecome from. When people accept challenges, most do not want to accept theconsequences as a result of being unsuccessful. Gawain was not like this. When the yearpassed he gallantly mounted his horse and set off for the Green Chapel. This showed thatGawain was brave. This was preceded by the warning “Beware, Gawain, that you not enda betrayer of your bargain through fear.
“Along this journey Gawain faces peril and self-reluctance in the form of theelements and the never-ending search for the chapel respectively. These feeling can becharacterized as the inner turmoil suffered as a result of dealing with one’s conscience. The journey also tested his faith in the sense that he was constantly in prayer during hisjourney, and not once did he curse or renounce the name of God. It seems as if theprayers were what kept Gawain sane and focused on the purpose of his journey.
Gawain’s prayers were answered when he rode along and finally came upon a place thathe could petition for possible rest. This castle would be the setting for Gawain’s next test. The test builds as he feasts with the court and finds that a certain lady has an interest inknowing Gawain a little better. The lady is later to be known as the wife of Bercilak -aka-the Green Knight.
This is shown as temptation. The lady tries to seduce Gawain whileBetilak is away on a hunting excursion. Gawain resists every advance made by the ladyexcept a kiss for which he mentions in confession. Gawain is given a sash by the ladywhich is said to protect the wearer from harm. Reluctantly he accepts the sash and doesnot tell Bercilak that he received this from the lady.
He does this because he puts his trustin a material item instead of God to protect him from harm. This will prove to be one ofGawain’s few downfalls in this story. Gawain sets out for the Chapel and finds the Green Knight there honing his ax. Gawain bending over for the blow is feinted by the knight. When this happens Gawainflinches and is chastised by the knight for doing so. The knight raises the ax for a secondtime and feints the blow again.
This time Gawain is furious at the knight’s playfulness. The Knight raises his ax for a third time and nicks Gawain on the back of the neck. Theknight explains that the first two strokes were symbolic of the exchanges at the castlebetween Gawain and the lady which he resisted, and the final blow was representative ofGawain failing the final exchange and accepting the sash in place of faith in God. Theknight says that it could be forgiven and praised him for being one of the most faithfulmen he has ever seen. The Knight says that “Gawain was polished of that plight andpurified” meaning that man, despite faults and differences, can be forgiven.
Gawain feelsthat he has faulted himself and the confidence of others, but is once again forgiven by hispeers. This poem has a lot to do with the way in which man lives his life. Tests andchallenges face man everyday, and to be forgiven of these is normal. This story willalways be remembered for its intricate poetry in the handling of Gawain, and can be usedas a standard in which one can judge himself. Gawain is a man, and men have forgivablefaults.”Life is a Series of Tests and Challenges”A critical analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green KnightENGL 2010Peter Longley————————————————————–