Sir Gawain & The Green Knight Test

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What genre is Sir Gawain?

Medieval English/ verse romance

When was the text of Sir Gawain composed?

Mid to late fourteenth century

Who wrote Sir Gawain?

An anonymous author

What is this anonymous author often called and why?

"The Pearl Poet", because of the poem "Pearl" at the end of Sir Gawain

What archetype is Sir Gawain?

Arthurian legend

Sir Gawain is an example of...?

An alliterative verse, epic poetry, etc.

What was the general audience of Sir Gawain?

The "leisure class" that arose and did not have to fight, etc.

What is the role of a romantic hero?

To search for adventure, fight for an idea, etc.

What is chivalry?

The well-defined codes of behavior from medieval times

Where did chivalry come from?

The Christian ideas of morality

What is the "Green" knight symbolic of?

The "Green Man" who was a pagan symbol of nature: was not especially bad or especially good -- represents King Arthur & his men's battle between good and evil

What is Gawain's shield like?

Red with a golden pentangle on it

What does the pentangle represent?

Gawain's "five fifths"

For what purpose did the author place King Arthur in line with leaders of ancient civilazations?

To show how well-respected King Arthur was, how he was known as the greatest king in medieval times, to show how he was an important leader of medieval times, etc.

Why is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight said to be written in alliterative verse?

Because of the meter of the verses and how words in sentences will start with the same letter

What does Arthur challenge the Green Knight to do? Why, do you think?

First he asks him to sit down and join them to tell the story; this shows his politeness and chivalry. Later he challenges him to a fight with his men; this shows his faith and honor he has in his court

What is the Knight's reaction to this challenge?

First he refuses the offer to sit down, then he refuses to fight Arthur's men and instead play a game

How does Sir Gawain rationalize his request of Arthur that he be the one to accept the Knight's challenge? What qualities does he thus show?

Gawain rationalizes his request to complete the Green Knight's challenge by reciting the rules of the game to show he actually wants to do it and isn't being rash. This shows the qualities of courage and strength, and also thinking things through.

What bargain does the Green Knight strike with Gawain?

That Gawain will have to report to him in a years time to be murdered

Describe the reaction of the gathered crowd to the spectacle that enfolds before Arthur.

The crowd is shocked into silence most of the time, but at other times are most likely scared or gasping

Why did the lords and ladies have "sorrow" for Gawain? Why did they "make mirth" for his sake?

They felt bad for Gawain because they knew he would soon be riding off to his death, they felt they had to "make mirth" (become happy) to cheer him up

Why do you think the Gawain poet aggrandizes Gawain by describing his equipment and clothing in such extravagant and hyperbolic detail?

The poet did this to emphasize on the strength and courage of Gawain who was sacrificing his life, and making him seem almost "super-human" to be more of a hero

What might the significance of the birds that are embroidered on Gawain's suit be?

The significance of these birds are most likely to go with the symbolism of the color green, and nature: peace, fertility, rebirth, and how Gawain is bringing peace to his kingdom

What are Gawain's "five virtues"?

1. to be faultless in his five senses;
2. never to fail in his five fingers;
3. to be faithful to the five wounds that Christ received on the cross;
4. to be strengthened by the five joys that the Virgin Mary had in Jesus (the Annunciation, Nativity, Resurrection, Ascension, and Assumption);
5. and to possess brotherly love, courtesy, piety, and chastity.

Summarize the attitude of Gawain's kinsmen to the King who allowed his knight to dual with a Green Knight "for empty pride", "caught in a cavil [conspiracy] in a Christmas game"?

The people treated Gawain like a celebrity being on King Arthur's court

What do you think is the dramatic significance of the fact that the townspeople are unable to give Gawain directions to the Green Chapel of the Green Knight?

This shows how many people actually go to the Green Chapel, and how distant, remote, mysterious and "unreal" it actually is

Gawain is praised more extravagantly by those who await his appearance for dinner than by any who knew him at the Round Table, earlier in the epic. Why, do you think, he seems to have grown in the poet's—and reader's—eyes?

After taking on such a courageous challenge, Gawain has become the hero of the story and the reader's and writer treats him with more respect

For what reason do Gawain and his host sit together, "soberly"?

They sit together "soberly" as they both know it is the last time they will be together before Gawain goes off to the Green Knight

Speculate on the symbolic significance of the two ladies—one old and weathered, the other "fresh as the first snow"?

They could represent two halves of Gawain's life; how once so recently he was young, and new and had a whole life ahead of him; and the old one represents how he knows his life is coming to an end and how the burden is taking it's toll on him

Why, do you think, Gawain feigns sleep when the "lady" appears at his bedside?

He pretends to be asleep to avoid contact with her as she is a married woman

What is the "truce" that the lady proposes to Gawain?

She offers him an extra kiss every night instead of staying alone with him --> then gives him green girdle on last day

Why is it said that Gawain decides to keep the girdle the lady had given him? Is such a reason truly chivalric?

It is not considered chivalric as it was done from giving in to temptations

What were the three animals that were hunted on each day?

Deer, boar, and fox

What does the green girdle do?

Protects the wearer from any harm

Who is Gringolet?

Gawain's horse

What does Gawain ask from Christ as he leaves the castle?

To bless it and keep it from harm, and wishing joy on the host and the host's wife

What does the guide say to Gawain?

That no one survives an encounter with the Green Knight, and if Gawain turned around he would not say anything

What does Gawain say to the guide?

He refuses his offer as he doesn't want to be a coward

Describe the Green Chapel

It is on a mound-like crevice, like a cave

What happens the first time the Green Knight goes to strike Gawain?

Gawain flinches and the Green Knight mocks him

What happens the second time the Green Knight goes to strike Gawain?

Gawain doesn't flinch, but the Green Knight stops the blade and praises him

What happens the third time the Green Knight goes to strike Gawain?

He comes down hard on Gawain's neck and leaves a small cut

What does Gawain do after he survives the Green Knight?

Challenges him to a fight

What is the view on woman?

There is a passage where Gawain talks about the deceitfulness of women and how they brought down many historical figures

Who is the Green Knight revealed to be?

Bertilak de Hautdesert, a servant

What does the court of Camelot offer to do to cheer up Gawain?

Wear green girdles in honor of him

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