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The glory of shame

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  1. Introduction
  2. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  3. Gawain's earthly instincts
  4. Conclusion

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight glorifies the affluence of King Arthur's court through elaborate detail and celebrates the virtues of the Pentangle that the knights swear to uphold. Then it challenges every mention of a virtue with an opposition: While everybody holds Sir Gawain to be the most honorable of all, he feels shameful; While his hostess befriends him, she also tempts him to sin; While the ?most evil? Green Chapel towers like Satan's lair, it veritably stands as a sanctuary in which Gawain repents and is ironically saved instead (2196). And while the Green Knight, with his green skin and devious games, gives a semblance of the Devil, the biblical imagery insinuates an agency under God.

Despite his supernatural persona, he exhibits the qualities of ?mainly and most of all a man? (141). These inconsistencies seem to challenge the preconceptions of knighthood and suggest a weakness within the Arthurian court, specifically the Christian notion that reliance on human morality alone may lead even the most devout men astray, leaving them vulnerable to Satan's schemes. The Green Knight's man-divine duality embodies precisely this spiritual struggle. And Gawain's journey to the Green Chapel mirrors his spiritual awakening from the Arthurian ideal to the realization of man's imperfect nature when he sees his own failure. However, because of his sincere contrition and desires to make amends, he meets all contingencies of a worthy confession and is saved in the end.

[...] "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." The Longman Anthology of British Literature Volume 1A 4th ed. 219-277. BibleGateway.com. Wycliffe Bible. www.biblegateway.com ?Overview of Medieval and SCA Favors? by Lady Diane de Arden. [...]


[...] Gawain's fear of death also spurs the realization of his own frailty. His inability to kill the Green Knight certifies that man cannot defeat the supreme forces with human strength alone. His inability to stop time proves his helplessness against Nature. She prevails every time. She keeps pushing forward. She brings winter despite the protests within Gawain's heart. ?Season after season? she proves that Nature is immortal, that Man is not, that life is a cycle, for it's way of the world? (530). [...]


[...] The attractive woman is evaluated based on what ?pleasure? a man can with her. Defined as ?secretly make plans to carry the word references man's concealed sexual desires. Gawain's actions reveal that he fancies her, for when he gazes that gracious-looking creature / He gained leave of the lord to go along with the ladies? and later ?felt a flush of rapture suffuse his heart? (1763). He enjoys her seduction so much to the point that he calls on Virgin Mary to help curb his inner beast. [...]

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