SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a poem of the Middle Ages whose writer remains unknown. This poem was written in the Arthurian era and though it is not clear if it had any specific impact on the readers of that time, it still remains to be the greatest romance of that period. It also depicts some of the themes that marked that period such as ‘..war and wrack/…bliss and blunder…’. This period was also marked by knights who served the king. They were required to be brave and noble. This poem tells of the story of one such knight who was tested to the seams based on the Christian and moral ideals of chivalry. The knight is called Sir Gawain (In this case will only be referred to just as Gawain). These tests are carried out through games and temptations.
The games begin when the king according to his nature refuses to eat at the New Year’s banquet until he is told a story of a marvelous knightly deed. When no one seems willing to answer to the king’s call, a Green knight rides in and roughly calls out for the leader of the “…gyng” translated as group. All the knights are frightened by the Green Knight’s gait, stature, and features. They all become quiet and cowardly. King Arthur, not ready to lose face, answers to the giant at once. The giant then proposes a beheading game. He wishes to be beheaded by the bravest of the men in the hall as long as after one year and a day he will be allowed a chance to behead the same man.
Since there is not a single knight willing to take the challenge, king Arthur accepts it. However, before he beheads the giant, Sir Gawain, one of the knights, pre-empts him, claiming modestly that his life is of less value than the king’s. He then takes the axe and beheads the Green Knight. Because the giant is not human, it does not succumb but picks up his head and as he rides off reminds Gawain to meet him at his Green Chapel a year later for a similar fate....