Sir Gawain and The Green Knight is a Classic Arthurian Poem

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight is a classic Arthurian poem written in romance genre of the XIV century. It opens with an abundant description of mythological founding of Britain by Brute of Troy, a descendant of legendary hero Aeneas. Thus, the author proceeds to introduce Arthur, the great and glorious king of Britain, his noble knights of the Round Table, his Quieen Guinevere, and his nephew Gawain. All lords and ladies of Camelot celebrate New Year’s Day, feast, play games, exchange kisses and gifts. As dinnertime approaches, King Arthur starts yet another game. He declines to eat unless someone tells him “an unknown tale of some mighty marvel”.

 As soon as the first course is served, a mysterious Green Knight suddenly arrives on a horseback. The author describes him very closely, and calls him a “giant geared in green”. His appearance is very imposing and mighty, and yet he has no armor, or helm, only a holly branch in one hand and a tremendous axe in the other. The knight demands to meet the governor of the throng and craves a Christmas gift. He wants one of the knights of Camelot to “staunchly strike a stroke” for him with his own rich axe. He promises to let the young man keep the weapon, but in return, he wishes to be granted the gift of giving another stroke “in a twelvemonth and a day”. Sir Gawain appeals to King Arthur and accepts the challenge, thus agreeing to sustain the following adventure. He severs the Green Knight’s head in one mighty stroke, but the Knight does not fall from his horse. He picks up his head, points it at the high table and repeats the conditions of the promise given by Gawain.

As the time passes, Sir Gawain prepares to keep his word and leaves the court to find the Green Knight. He sets off for the Green Chapel and travels through North Wales and the west coast of Britain, encountering wild wolves, bears, dragons and giants. On Christmas Eve, he prays to Virgin Mary and asks for a place to attend Christmas Mass. In response to his prayer and repentance, he does find a shelter in a beautiful castle among generous hosts: a gracious and gentle lord, his beautiful wife, and a mysterious old woman. Gawain spends Christmas in their company, but three days before New Year’s he intends to continue his journey to the Green Chapel. The lord, however, convinces him to stay longer, as the place he is searching is only two miles away. Meanwhile, he suggests Gawain the following bargain: the last three days of his stay, Gawain will spend at ease in the castle accompanied by the lord’s wife, whereas the lord himself will rise early and go hunting in the woods. Further, they will exchange whatever they achieve during those days. Sir Gawain accepts this bargain without hesitation, and that is how the first two chapters of a romance about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight end.

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