Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Study Guide

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Study Guide

Original title:
Gawayn and þe Grene Knyȝt
Published November 2001 by Signet Classics (first published 1390)
ISBN 0451528182 (ISBN13: 9780451528186)

We all know Don Quixote as the most famous representative of the chivalric irony genre. On the contrary, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is a real chivalry poem written it the 14th century. It is a beautiful and symbolic adventure into the life and morals of the 14th century written by an unknown author.

The language of the medieval times might be difficult to read but that only adds to the impression the text leaves behind. The folklore knowledge or love for old things is a necessary prerequisite for the readers of the poem.

The protagonist of the poem is a relative of King Arthur. Sir Gawain accepts the challenge of the Green Knight who appeared on the New Year’s Eve. A year passes by and he is ready to fulfill the promise. He travels to the North Wales to confront the enemy and encounters all sorts of tests along the way.

Soon he is very close to the final destination and settles for a rest. In a castle of an unknown host, Gawain almost enters into an affair with the hostess and receives a special cloth from her. When he finally confronts the Green Knight in an equal battle, he realizes that the knight isn’t the person we really thought he was.

The author did a good job combining the melodious rhythm and the rich content in the book. The themes of religion, loyalty, honesty, and noble warriors create a unique mix of feelings the poem leaves behind. The fierce fighting goes hand in hand with the moral remorse of not telling the whole truth.

The English interpretation of John Tolkien, who happened to live in the same area 500 years after, made the poem even more popular among adventure lovers and history geeks. It’s a must-read for both young and grown-up book lovers.

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