Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

These are topics on which you can write a substantial anaytical paper. They are designed to test your understanding of major themes and details from the work as a whole. Following the topics are outlines you can use as a starting point for writing an analytical paper.

Topic #1
The major theme of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the hero’s passage to maturity. Along the way, he passes three major tests. First, he shows courage and initiative when he volunteers to take the place of Arthur and accept the challenge of the Green Knight. Second, he shows discipline, self-control and honor when he refuses the advances of Lady Bertilak. Third, he faces death when he keeps his appointment with the Green Knight. Review each of these episodes carefully, and notice the way Gawain changes.

When Gawain returns to Camelot after his adventure, his maturity seems to set him apart from his old companions, who are unable to understand what has happened. Something of the sort often happens to young people, who may outgrow their old companions. Have you ever had similar experiences? Can you think of anyone else who has?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: The major theme of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the passage to maturity of the hero, Sir Gawain.

II. Introduction: Gawain and Camelot at the start of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

III. The First Test: The challenge of the Green Knight
A. What Gawain demonstrates
B. What Gawain learns

IV. The Second Test: Withstanding the attempt at seduction
A. What Gawain demonstrates
B. What Gawain learns

V. The Third Test: Facing death
A. What Gawain demonstrates
B. What Gawain learns

VI. Conclusion: The return to Camelot
A. How Gawain has matured
B. Gawain and the society at Camelot

Topic #2
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Arthur, Gawain and Bertilak/The Green Knight represent three respective visions of the medieval warrior. All three portraits are presented with some admiration, but none of them is entirely uncritical. Compare and contrast these three figures. By examining their strengths and weaknesses, decide what the Gawain poet thought of chivalry and its codes.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Arthur, Gawain, and Bertilak/the Green Knight each represent three respective visions of the Medieval warroir, presented with some admiration, but none of them is entirely uncritical.

II. Introduction: The warrior ideal in the Middle Ages

III. The figure of Arthur in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
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(The entire section is 1104 words.)