Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Passage Analysis
The Introduction  ~  (Lines 1 - 59)


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a story full of tests and inner challenges, was written by an unknown author somewhere in the late 14th century. The poem begins the same as it ends: with the mentioning of the fall of Troy. After the fall of Troy, the Trojan survivors ventured to Europe where each began a new kingdom. "Ticius to Tuscany, and towers raises, Langobard in Lombardy lays out homes, and far over the French Sea, Felix Brutus on many broad hills and high Britain he sets, most fair." (Norton p. 202) In the same lines in the original text, "And fer ouer the French flod Felix Brutus On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settez wyth wynne" Britain is described as a land that is settled "wyth wynne" or, with joy.

The second stanza describes how many warriors and "bold boys" were bred in Britain. The text continues and describes that many exceptional things are happening in this land than in any other for a long time. Most importantly, the text proceeds to offer a description that sets up the visualization and stature of the setting and characters included in the poem. Of all of the British kings, "King Arthur was counted most courteous of all" (Norton p. 203). He was the most respected, and therefore was the most powerful and most successful. There are many stories about the Arthurian Legend, but the author denotes that the story that he is about to retell, is one that is incomparable to any other. "Wherefore an adventure I aim to unfold, that a marvel of might some men think it, and one unmatched among Arthur's wonders. If you will listen to my lay but a little while, as I heard it in hall, I shall hasten to tell anew." (Norton p. 203) The author is saying that he heard it in passing and doesn't want to offend anyone by what he is saying.

The final stanza of this passage offers a description to the scenery, traditions and some of the usual festivities that take place at Camelot. Under King Arthur's command, the New Year's party is underway, including song, dance, and competitions.  It describes how only the youngest and best of all the knights and the fairest of all the ladies were present.  "And the loveliest ladies that lived on earth ever, and he the comeliest king, that that court holds, for all this fari fold in their first age were still." (Norton p. 203)  In the spirit of keeping everyone entertained, "true men contended in tournaments many, joined there in jousting these gentle knights, then came to the court for carol-dancing" (Norton p. 203).  The party was in effect for fifteen days, "with all the meat and the mirth that men could devise" (Norton p. 203).  Lastly, the text says that one would have to travel far to find a host that took care of his guests as Arthur did.

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1998