Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
English poem, c. 14th century.
The following entry presents criticism from 1960 to 1997 on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. For more information on the work, see CMLC, Volume 2.
Critically acclaimed as a masterpiece and considered the best of the English medieval romances, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an anonymous Arthurian romance, most likely from the fourteenth century, written in alliterative verse, comprising 2530 lines in 101 stanzas. The story incorporates elements drawn from several centuries of folklore and legend, Christian and Celtic symbolism, and portions from French and Latin versions of the tale. The narrative describes the adventures of Sir Gawain, King Arthur's youngest knight, as his courage and vows of chastity and honor are tested by circumstances arranged by a giant of a knight, clad in green armor, with a green face and green hair. Because the text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is in Middle English and in a particularly difficult northwest Midlands dialect, it is most familiar to modern readers in translation; nevertheless, the original language of the poem is highly praised for its beauty and richness. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight exists in only one manuscript, following three other poems by the same author: Pearl, Patience, and Cleanness (also called Purity). No portion of these poems is known to appear in any other manuscript. The small quarto volume that contains these four works has been housed in the British Museum since 1753; it contains no titles or headings, although large blue and red letters set off the main divisions. The volume also contains several full-page illustrations. Scholars have had no success in identifying the Gawain-poet (also known as the Pearl-poet), although several suggestions and theories have been offered. For the genius he displays in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight through innovations in language, style, characterization, and plot, the Gawain-poet is considered by critics on the level of Chaucer, his contemporary.
Plot and Major Characters
Christmas Eve festivities at the court of King Arthur are disrupted when a green knight abruptly enters the room and issues a challenge: Is there a knight present who dares to trade blows of an ax with him? The Green Knight will take the first blow and the challenger will receive the second a year later at the Green Knight's distant chapel. Sir Gawain accepts and advances to the kneeling intruder, whose neck is exposed. With one strike Gawain severs the Green Knight's head from his body. The body, however, rises up immediately, picks up its head, jumps on its horse, and rides away. Months pass and on All Hallow's Day, Gawain rides off in search of the Green Chapel. After weeks of winter travel and dangerous adventures, Gawain reaches Castle Hautdesert. The lord of the castle, Bertilak, informs Gawain that the Green Chapel is very close and asks that he stay in the castle as his guest for three days. The two men agree to an Exchange of Winnings: Bertilak will give Gawain all the game he catches on his hunts, and Gawain will give his host all gifts he receives during his stay. The beautiful Lady Bertilak enters Gawain's bedchamber immediately after her husband commences his first day's hunt. She attempts to seduce Gawain, but he courteously refuses. The second morning is much like the first. The third morning Gawain accepts a gift from Lady Bertilak: an embroidered green girdle (or belt), which has the special power of making its bearer invulnerable to any mortal blow. When Bertilak returns that night and gives Gawain the results of the day's hunt, Gawain says nothing of the girdle. The following morning Gawain departs with a guide and finds the Green Chapel almost immediately. Gawain offers his neck. The Green Knight starts to swing his ax but Gawain flinches, earning taunts for his cowardice. The second swing is deliberately checked by the Green Knight—it was intended to test Gawain's steadfastness. The third blow only nicks him. The Green Knight informs him that the nick was punishment for breaking their Exchange of Winnings promise and reveals that he and the Lord Bertilak are one and the same. Gawain is ashamed and chastises himself, although Bertilak tells him his debt has been paid. He tells him that the test was devised by Morgan le Fay, Arthur's half-sister, in order to prove that his knights are not so honorable as they appear. Gawain returns to King Arthur's court with the green girdle as a token of his failure. The other knights, however, find the adventure amusing, consider Gawain triumphant, and put on silk girdles of their own, as a symbol of “the renown of the Rounde Table.”
Scholars have traditionally regarded the themes of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as ambiguous. Some view the poem as the tale of a noble knight who resists sexual temptation and so keeps his vow of chastity. Others interpret it as the unveiling of a knight's improper behavior: According to the second group, Gawain renders what he intends as a mortal wound to the Green Knight, not a sparing blow, as the chivalric code dictates. He also rejects the rules of courtly love by refusing Lady Bertilak's advances; he is disloyal to his host and their Exchange of Winnings Agreement in not giving Bertilak the girdle; and he is cowardly when he avoids the first swing of the Green Knight's ax. Critics consider the puzzle of the theme a major asset of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and they continue to debate whether the real test was what happened at Castle Hautdesert rather than the exchange of blows, as well as whether, finally, Gawain passed or failed the tests.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was rediscovered in the late nineteenth century and has received a tremendous amount of critical and scholarly attention since the early part of the twentieth century. In the 1980s Bill Moyers' Public Television series “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth” also introduced the story to millions of viewers. Campbell interprets the Green Knight's life after beheading as an example of vegetative myth, with life and death in an endless cycle. The Gawain-poet is universally praised by critics for his inventiveness. Larry D. Benson and Wendy Clein discuss how the author habitually played against the expectations of his contemporary audience, familiar with the conventions of oral literature. Sacvan Bercovitch, likewise, explains that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight runs counter to typical medieval romance tradition in so many ways that it is more fitting to consider it an anti-romance. W. A. Davenport examines the stylistic techniques employed by the Gawain-poet, particularly in characterization and the use of role reversals; numerous critics note that in many ways it is the Green Knight who is exemplary, not Gawain. Davenport writes that “Gawain's progress through the courtly maze of experience to a kind of bittersweet maturity seems, eventually, to be a fair enough fictional image of one part of life.” Joseph M. Lenz offers a structural study of the tale and writes, “Very few poems are more structurally sound than Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Albert B. Friedman, while not disagreeing with Lenz, finds one flaw: Morgan le Fay betrays her roots in early folk tales and, as Friedman points out, remains a “thread imperfectly woven into the narrative.” Sir Gawain and the Green Knight provides much material for the study of the medieval notion of courtesy and Derek Pearsall and Jonathan Nicholls analyze the Gawain-poet's questioning of its role in the chivalric code. Ad Putter focuses on the temptation scenes, while Anne Rooney focuses on those of hunting; while many critics believe that these scenes work effectively in juxtaposition, Rooney urges caution in making more of the hunting scenes than what they are—engaging descriptions inserted into the narrative to maintain audience interest. The symbolism displayed in the poem is studied by Piotr Sadowski, who discusses the meaning of the greenness of the Green Knight. The pentangle, a symbol on Gawain's shield which the Gawain-poet describes in very detailed fashion, fascinates numerous critics because of its melding of Christian and pagan elements. Arthur Lindley warns against too much searching for symbolism and meaning, however, asserting that ambiguity is integral to the theme of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and that critics who seek to resolve its conflicting themes are misguided.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [translated by Brian Stone] 1959
The Complete Works of the Gawain-Poet [translated by John Gardner] 1965
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [translated by Marie Borroff] 1967
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [translated by Burton Raffel] 1970
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” “Pearl,” and “Sir Orfeo” [translated by J. R. R. Tolkien] 1975
Pearl Poems: “Patience” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” [translated by William Vantuono] 1984
The Complete Works of the Pearl Poet [translated by Casey Finch] 1993
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”: A Verse Translation [translated by Keith Harris] 1999
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SOURCE: Friedman, Albert B. “Morgan le Fay in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” 1960. In “Sir Gawain” and “Pearl”: Critical Essays, edited by Robert J. Blanch, pp. 135-58. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1960, Friedman examines Morgan le Fay's role in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, presenting a comparative analysis of various critical interpretations of her importance in the story.]
“Le joyau de la littérature anglaise du moyen âge,” as Gaston Paris called Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,1 is obviously flawed in one crucial passage. When the giant has brought his ax down for the third time and cut a token gash in Gawain's neck, the hero bounds away from the block, and, after his temper has cooled, hears in astonished relief the Green Knight's explanation of why he had come to court to challenge Arthur's knights. The ancient lady of the castle, now revealed to be Morgan le Fay, was behind the whole adventure. She it was who had sent the Green Knight (in human guise, Bercilak the Hautdesert) to Arthur's court, her purpose being to test the renown of the Round Table and to frighten Guinevere to death. “Every reader,” says Kittredge, “finds [the object assigned for Bercilak's visit to court] unsatisfactory. It is the one weak spot in the superb English romance.”2 For so...
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SOURCE: Benson, Larry D. “Literary Convention and Characterization in Sir Gawain.” In Art and Tradition in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” pp. 56-109. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1965.
[In the following essay, Benson explores the influence of common literary conventions from the romance tradition on setting, action, and characterizations in the Gawain-poet's works.]
The Gawain-poet's debt to romance tradition is most clearly and significantly evident not in his dependence on specific sources such as Caradoc but in his use of the general stock of literary conventions that were the common property of all romancers. We have already considered some of them in our discussion of the temptation episode, but their influence is not restricted to that part of the narrative; the poet drew on them for much of his settings, his actions, and, most important, his characterizations. Critics of Sir Gawain have seldom paid much attention to this fact, though it is just what one would expect of a poem written in so notoriously conventional a genre as romance; W. P. Ker speculated that when two romancers met to talk shop their first words must have been, “Where do you put your Felon Red Knight? Where do you put your doing away with the Ill Custom? Or your tournaments?”1 No doubt the Gawain-poet would have joined in the conversation enthusiastically,...
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SOURCE: Bercovitch, Sacvan. “Romance and Anti-Romance in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In Critical Studies of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” edited by Donald R. Howard and Christian Zacher, pp. 257-66. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1965, Bercovitch explains that many elements of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight run counter to traditional romantic conventions.]
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is without question a “profound celebration of the romance values … [of] Christian chivalry and courtesy,” and in this sense we undoubtedly have an “obligation to read[it] … constantly as a romance.”1 Unfortunately, however, the obligation seems to have misled modern readers into a disproportionate emphasis on its sombre and sacral qualities. The Gawain-poet, writes an influential critic, “is as civilized as Chaucer, but sterner, much more of a moralist, a great deal less of a humorist.”2 Such highly serious interpretations neglect the function, if not the presence, of the poem's humor and realism, though in fact these are among its chief characteristics, deliberately counterbalancing the romance properties and ameliorating the “stern morality.” This paper attempts to show that an essential part of the poem's structure and meaning lies in its anti-romance...
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SOURCE: Spearing, A. C. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In The Gawain-Poet, pp. 171-91. London: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
[In the following excerpt, Spearing contends that three plot-elements—the Beheading Game, the Temptation, and the Exchange of Winnings—are fundamental to understanding the meaning of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.]
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Gawain-poet's best known and most admired work, differs from his other three poems in being more essentially a narrative than they are. It is not an exemplum set in a homily, or a vision with explicit and detailed doctrine at its heart, but a story. Like Patience and Pearl, it has its tail in its mouth; but what it emerges from and returns to is not a moral truth but the process of legendary British history, that larger tale of alternating ‘blysse and blunder’ (18) in which it is only an incident. This essentially narrative quality of the poem gives it a self-sufficiency, and independence of moral schemata, whose consequences we shall have to examine later. For the moment, let us consider the story which is the poem's principle of structure or, in Aristotelian terms, its ‘soul’. This story is made up of a number of traditional elements—the Beheading Game, the Temptation, the Exchange of Winnings—which can be traced back over...
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SOURCE: Davenport, W. A. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In The Art of the Gawain-Poet, pp. 152-94. London: The Athlone Press, 1978.
[In the following excerpt, Davenport examines various techniques employed by the Gawain-poet, including symbolism, irony, and role reversals in his characterizations.]
2. GAWAIN'S ADVERSARIES
The most puzzling, and hence the most variously interpreted, element in Sir Gawain is the double figure of the Green Knight-cum-Bertilak. He has been seen as Life, Death, God, the Devil, and the force of Nature, as a Wild Man, a primitive hob-goblin, a shape-shifter, as the force of an earthly moral integrity stripping courtly pretension of its class veneer, as a super-human primordial energy mocking the mutabilities of time and human triviality, and more. Most such ‘interpretations’ are fanciful generalisations based on unanalysed, impressionistic reactions to particular moments in the poem, but the very variety of them is an indication of the multiplicity and the ambivalence which the poet created in the figure of his hero's main tester. The experience which Gawain endures is not clearly sign-posted, as the hero's experience in a medieval allegory or in a poem designed as a moral exemplum would have been. The reader is left to work out for himself whether the poet intended a particular significance in the figure of the Green...
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SOURCE: Nicholls, Jonathan. “The Testing of Courtesy at Camelot and Hautdesert in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In The Matter of Courtesy: Medieval Courtesy Books and the Gawain-Poet, pp. 112-38. Suffolk, England: D. S. Brewer, 1985.
[In the following essay, Nicholls contrasts the notion of courtesy as practiced by Sir Gawain with the behavior of other courtiers, especially the discourtesy displayed by the Green Knight.]
Despite having a consistent Christian framework, SGGK [Sir Gawain and the Green Knight] explores more fully the social meaning of courtesy than its companion poems. There are only three occasions in the poem when ‘courtesy’ or ‘hende’ is used in an explicitly religious context: twice when Gawain offers thanks to Jesus and St Julian for finding him a lodging at Christmas, and once in connection with Mary, ‘þe hende heuen-quene’.(647) Other verbal contexts for the words suggest a less explicit religious reference, although the poet's normal sensitivity to the complexity of the idea never allows us to view its use as simplistic.
The most prominent use of ‘courtaysye’ occurs in the pentangle-passage where it is enumerated along with ‘clannes’, ‘fraunchyse’, ‘felaȝschyp’, and ‘pité’, as the fourth quality of the ‘fyft fyue’. (651) Here the word must pick up resonances of Christian virtue from its proximity...
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SOURCE: Lenz, Joseph M. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In The Promised End: Romance Closure in the “Gawain”-poet, Malory, Spenser, and Shakespeare, pp. 31-44. New York: Peter Lang, 1986.
[In the following excerpt, Lenz examines section by section the circular structure of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.]
Very few poems are more structurally sound than Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The poet blends a variety of disparate sources—the folklore motifs of the exchange of blows and the exchange of gifts, the courtly love game, the Arthurian setting and characters—into a marvelously wrought tale whose whole, as Marie Borroff tells us, is “far greater than the sum of its parts.”1 Because of its stable and intricate structure, few poems are more satisfying than Gawain. The association of structure and satisfaction implies that there comes a point when we recognize the interrelation of the various elements and when that design appears not only complete but also aesthetically appealing. Barbara Herrnstein Smith describes that moment of recognition as the point of closure: “a structure appears closed when it is experienced as integral: coherent, complete, and stable.”2 As we have already seen, closure is not simply that place where events stop, for a narrative can end without ever “tying up loose ends.” A conclusion should be a consummation....
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SOURCE: Clein, Wendy. ““Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and Its Readers. ” In Concepts of Chivalry in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” pp. 3-14. Norman, Okl.: Pilgrim Books, 1987.
[In the following essay, Clein contends that the Gawain-poet deliberately made the message of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ambiguous, seeking a wide and changing range of responses in his readers in order to encourage them to think critically about ethics.]
Only when we finish reading a work can we evaluate its meaning as a whole, the way in which its parts fit together. At the conclusion of a tale, the quest to discover what happens next ceases. We discover whether our predictions are accurate, whether the work meets or violates our expectations. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight concludes in a way that thwarts our desire for resolution. The poem withholds motives and explanations until the end. Then, contrary to readers' expectations, the problems that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight entertains are not resolved upon the completion of the hero's quest and the antagonist's revelation of his identity and purpose. Like Gawain, readers are surprised by the disclosure of the Green Knight's identity with Bertilak and his wife's complicity in the test. Moreover, the news that Gawain's aunt, Morgan la Faye, instigates the entire plot comes as a puzzling revelation. The discoveries at...
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SOURCE: Morgan, Gerald. “The Action of the Hunting and Bedroom Scenes,” “The Definition of Gawain's Sinfulness,” and “The Judgment of Gawain's Conduct.” In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and the Idea of Righteousness, pp. 106-69. County Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 1991.
[In the following essays, Morgan examines how the Gawain-poet demonstrates nobility through character, rather than by action; contends that Gawain's confession is truly pious; and explores the themes of sin and repentance in the work..]
THE ACTION OF THE HUNTING AND BEDROOM SCENES
The moral seriousness of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is clearly established by the pentangle passage, and in the light of its values commentators have addressed themselves to the judgments of Gawain's conduct made by the Green Knight (2331-68), Gawain himself (2369-88, 2406-38, and 2494-512), and Arthur and his court (2513-21). It is not a matter of dispute that the moral outcome is determined in the series of bedroom exchanges, framed by the hunting scenes, which take place in Fitt III between Gawain and the host's wife. Nevertheless the moral implication of these events, reinforced as it is by the poem's interlocking structure, has not prevented some readers from reducing the bedroom interchanges to the level of light comedy or even farce. Thus Barron believes...
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SOURCE: Prior, Sandra Pierson. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In The Pearl Poet Revisited, pp. 92-127. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994.
[In the following essay, Prior offers a critical reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a medieval romance and asserts that its author did not believe in offering firm conclusions concerning moral issues, considering them outside the scope of the genre.]
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the last poem in the manuscript, is by far the best known and the most popular of the poet's works. A romance tale combining various Celtic and folk motifs with traditions about King Arthur and his knights, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight recounts Gawain's adventures after he accepts a challenge to play a beheading game with a gigantic green man. This poem is unique among the Pearl poet's works, set apart from the other three by both its secular subject and romance form.
Since its rediscovery in the mid-nineteenth century, this poem has been the subject of enormous scholarly and critical study. Because of this great wealth of material, much of which is available either directly through critical essay collections or indirectly through introductions to the many editions of the poem, I will not attempt to give a general view of the criticism of Gawain.1 Instead, I will mention a few of the most prominent...
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SOURCE: Putter, Ad. “The Temptation Scenes.” In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and French Arthurian Romance, pp. 100-48. Oxford University Press: Oxford, England, 1995.
[In the following essay, Putter analyzes how the Gawain-poet's temptation scenes differ from those found in his probable sources.]
The romance of Perlesvaus, or Le Haut Livre du Graal, was written in the first half of the thirteenth century, perhaps in England or at least by a writer with some knowledge of its geography and its recent historical events.1 The work recounts the adventures of Perceval, Lancelot, and Gawain, who has undertaken the quest for the sword of Saint John. The relation between the Perlesvaus and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has already been a matter of considerable speculation.2 Like Gawain, the prose romance contains a beheading game. After chopping off the head of a suicidal knight, Lancelot returns to the Waste City one year later for a return blow. When his opponent raises his axe he sees that Lancelot flinches, and impugns his bravery. While he prepares himself for a second attempt, two damsels who have observed the scene from afar beg Lancelot's enemy to spare his life. He does so because, since Lancelot has kept his promise to return, the Waste City has been restored to prosperity.
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SOURCE: Lindley, Arthur. “‘Ther He Watz Dispoyled, with Spechez of Myerthe’: Carnival and the Undoing of Sir Gawain.” In Hyperion and the Hobbyhorse: Studies in Carnivalesque Subversion, pp. 65-83. Newark, New Jersey: University of Delaware Press, 1996.
[In the following essay, Lindley argues that many critics misinterpret Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by seeking to impose meaning in the place of deliberate ambiguity.]
Few characters project a categorical view of human nature more strongly than the Wife of Bath or subvert it more thoroughly. In her world of discourse everyone is first, last, and always male or female. Those categories are ever and always separate and opposed, not only as black to white, but also as official to carnival. Either men are on top or women are. As we have seen, however, both her “real” and “fictional” narratives dissolve those categories and their alternative hierarchies. “I am woman,” roars the androgynous grotesque. Seen as an individual, that grotesque is the construction of false consciousness that is the characteristic expression of Augustine's version of natural man: a wordly self excreted by, but now controlling and imprisoning, a vitiated being whose salvation must be an escape from that self. Seen as text, that false consciousness is the discourse of sexual fear and alienation that prevents community and imprisons individuals within...
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SOURCE: Sadowski, Piotr. “The Greenness of the Green Knight” and “The Head and the Loss Thereof: Gawain's Final Adoubment.” In The Knight on His Quest: Symbolic Patterns of Transition in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” pp. 78-108 and 184-222. Newark, Del..: University of Delaware Press, 1996.
[In the following essays, Sadowski examines the significance of the color green to medieval readers and discusses the ideas of ritual beheading and psychological death.]
THE GREENNESS OF THE GREEN KNIGHT
The problem raised in the title of this … [essay] belongs to those obvious and self-imposing critical issues that arise for anyone who has even once read Sir Gawain, as indeed are most of the problems that constitute the subject matter of this book. The Green Knight's color and its meaning first became an issue for the early scholars of Sir Gawain,1 and the matter is now considered more or less resolved, at least in its essentials. The sharply decreasing frequency with which the problem of greenness in Sir Gawain has been addressed in the last two decades or so might suggest that the file has been closed, and there seems to be a silent consensus among the more recent critics that there is little or nothing to add to the existing interpretations.2 These generally view the Green Knight's major external characteristic either as...
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SOURCE: Rooney, Anne. “The Hunts in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In A Companion to the Gawain-Poet, edited by Derek Brewer and Jonathan Gibson, pp. 157-63. Cambridge, England: D. S. Brewer, 1997.
[In the following essay, Rooney argues that some critics have overanalyzed the hunting scenes of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and contends that they are simply examples of worldly pleasure.]
The game causeth ofte a man to eschewe þe vij deedly synnes … for whan a man is ydul and recheless … it is a thyng which draweth men to ymaginacioun of fleishly lust and plaisire, for suche men han no lust, but alway for to abyde in oon place, and thenketh in pryde or in auarice eiþer in wrethe, oiþer in slawthe or in gloteny or in lechery or in envie.
(Edward Plantagenet, 2nd Duke of York, The Master of Game (Baillie-Grohman and Baillie-Grohman 1904, 4-5))
That the hunt keeps men from sin is a common conceit in Middle English literature. Although probably a protestation against the condemnation the church often heaped upon hunters, the belief held wide currency. Tolerance of the hunt rested on the assumption that it was the lesser of several evils the resting knight may choose to indulge in. When knights and nobles were not out doing knightly deeds, they were better occupied in hunting than in many of the other...
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Burrow, J. A. “Conclusion.” In A Reading of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” pp. 160-86. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1965.
Contends that two modes, romantic and realistic, are present in the work.
Davis, Nick. ““Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: An Unfolded Narrative.” In Stories of Chaos: Reason and Its Displacement in Early Modern English Narrative, pp. 39-73. Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1999.
Analyzes the Pentangle emblem found on Gawain's shield and explains its significance.
Fox, Denton, editor. Twentieth Century Interpretations of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968, 115p.
Includes classic critical examinations.
Howard, Donald R. and Christian Zacher, editors. Critical Studies of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968, 331p.
Includes essays from twenty-two authors grouped around style and technique; characters and setting; and assorted interpretations of the poem.
Johnson, Lynn Staley. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In The Voice of the Gawain-Poet. pp. 37-96. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.
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