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Analysis

Literary Devices in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The narrator of Sir Gawain is very clear about what the pentangle (five-pointed star) on Gawain’s shield represents: It is a symbol that Solomon designed long ago As an emblem of fidelity, and ju...

Setting

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and in medieval romance more generally, a knight’s travel beyond his home court represents his venturing into an in-between state, outside of civilization’s...

Narrator Point of View

For the most part, the narrator of Sir Gawain recounts his tale in a third-person voice limited to Gawain’s point of view. This voice is necessary in order for the tale’s surprise ending – th...

Genre

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a medieval romance. This genre of literature features adventuring knights, noble ladies, and often, elements of the supernatural. More importantly, the hero usual...

Tone

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a fairy-tale-like story, full of magical creatures and supernatural happenings. Accordingly, the tone of the story is somewhat fairy-tale-like, or fantastical, as...

Writing Style

AlliterationScholars talk about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as part of the "alliterative revival," a literary movement in England in the late 14th century when many poets began writing in a dis...

What's Up With the Title?

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the story of how Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur’s court, is tested by a mysterious knight. Gawain’s nemesis is gigantic, and his skin, clothing, and hors...

What's Up With the Ending?

In our humble opinion, the ending of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the most heart-wrenching and poignant endings of any medieval romance. You see, Gawain returns to King Arthur’s cour...

Tough-o-Meter

OK, we’ll be straight with you: in its original Middle English, Sir Gawain and the Green Knightis pretty darn near impossible to read, even for people who have a pretty easy time with, say, Chauc...

Plot Analysis

Arthur and his knights have gathered at his castle for the Christmas holiday season, but Arthur has a custom of refusing to eat until he has heard a marvelous tale or witnessed a wonder. Suddenly,...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Sir Gawain decapitates the Green Knight, then watches with horror as he picks his head up and orders Gawain to meet him in a year and a day for the return stroke. Roughly one year later, Gawain voy...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

When the mysterious Green Knight challenges a knight of King Arthur’s court to strike him with one blow from his axe then receive one blow in exchange in a year and a day, Sir Gawain accepts the...

Trivia

According to the Arthurian legends, Gawain is Arthur’s nephew by his half-sister, Morgause, and King Lot of Orkney (source).The deer-butchering scene in the poem describes how the butcher "rapidl...

Steaminess Rating

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight gets a little bit racy when Lady Bertilak begins her seduction attempt. Although on the first day she just chats with Gawain, she ups the ante until the third day, b...

Allusions

Aeneas (5)The Fall of Troy (1)Romulus and the founding of Rome (8)Tirius and the founding of Tuscany (11)Langobard and the founding of Lombardy (12)Brutus and the founding of Britain (13)Solomon (6...
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