Paper On Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1458 words - 6 pages

Sir Gawain and The Green KnightThroughout Sir Gawain And The Green Knight there is a stark contrast between life within a castle and the world outside. In this poem life inside of a castle represents society, security, happiness and a closeness to God; while the world outside represents wilderness, danger, and vulnerability to evil. This binary is very significant in that it helps the reader to understand the lives and views held by medieval peoples.In the poem Sir Gawain And The Green Knight the characters are safe and secure while they are inside there castles. This is true in both Camelot and Lord Bercilak's castle. While safe inside the walls of Camelot Gawain is very content. He and ...view middle of the document...

In Lord Bercilak's castle there is no less merriment. They feast and enjoy themselves almost to no end. Within the poem there is very little emotion displayed by characters besides that of carefree joy.What happens to Gawain outside of these two castles is very different then what happens within. The poem, whenever Gawain is outside, takes on an ominous and dark tone. For instance, when Gawain leaves Camelot to find the Green Chapel it is not safe and he is not happy. The poet writes:Far off from all his friends, forlorn must he ride;At each strand or stream where the stalwart passedTwere a marvel if he met not some monstrous foe,And that so fierce and forbidding that fight he must.That to tell but the tenth part would tax my wits.Now with serpents he wars, now with savage wolves,Now with wild men of the woods, that watched from the rocks (ln 714-721)This is a description of Gawain enduring hardships throughout the whole trip. Gawain is fighting for his life while outside; and eating and drinking merrily while inside. This contrast is meant to further emphasize the perils of the outside world.Another strong contrast, between the indoors and the outdoors, in the poem is that of order versus disorder. The conduct within the castles is well developed and reflects social order. The seating arrangement at the feast of Camelot is that of a baronial hall. It is well organized with the King and Queen, with the most honored guests, sitting at a table on a dais. The rest of the knights and ladies are seated in long tables (note 2 pg 75). The order in which they are served is also formal. In Lord Bercilak's castle it is relatively the same; with Morgan La Fey sitting in the seat of honor and the Lord Bercilak on her right. The activities are also well organized. In contrast, the outdoors is very unorganized. Gawain has no idea what will come next as he searches for the Green Chapel. The outside world is often described as wild. This portrays a sense of disorder which in turn incites fear.If you simply look at the many adjectives used to describe the opposing environments their contrast is clearly defined. The poet writes this regarding the woods around the Green Chapel:[Gawain] Rides down the rough slope right to the valley;And then he looked a little about him- the landscape was wild,And not a soul to be seen, nor sign of a dwelling,But high banks on either hand hemmed it about,With many a ragged rock and rough-hewn crag;The skies seemed scored by the scowling peaks. (ln 2161-2167)In this description of the setting the word rough is used twice, and the landscape is called wild, and the rocks are ragged. These words make the setting seem ominous along with the personification of the "scowling" peaks. On L...


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