Study Guide

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Genre

By Anonymous

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Medieval Romance

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 usually undergoes a process of self-discovery in the course of his adventure, which enables him to reincorporate into society (represented by the court) as a better version of himself.

A romance hero usually adheres to a strict code of knightly conduct, which requires his absolute loyalty to his liege lord, extreme generosity, refusal to break his oaths, and the defense of the helpless. Another important element of medieval romance is its exploration of the rules of courtoisie, or courtly behavior. Sir Gawain, for example, is known for his excellence in courtoisie: he delights everyone with his conversational skills, and, most importantly, behaves with impeccable courtesy toward ladies.

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