HOMEVirtual Museum Map
The lives of King Arthur and Sir Gawain are very mysterious and their lives have been filled with many interesting events. Little is known about these two knights as well as the time period they were a part of. Many of the texts that include King Arthur and Sir Gawain are filled with mystery, chivalry, and intimacy played out by these two characters. It is clear that in many cases King Arthur and Sir Gawain are portrayed in the same fashion and possess the same characteristics and traits. The lives of these two men are very interesting and the journey they traveled to become who they are should not be forgotten as they have taken their place in history.
Sir Gawain in many of the texts, is referred to as a great hero and an ideal knight. He is the eldest son of King Lot of Gododdin, and his mother is Morgause. He also has four bothers; Agravain, Gaheris, and Gareth, and half-brother Mordred. Gawain, as a young child, was set adrift in a straw basket and found by a poor fisherman. He was educated in Rome and knighted by Pope Sulpicius. He later returned to Britain and became a knight of King Arthur's Round Table. Gawain, in later years, followed in his father's footsteps by becoming King of Gododdin. Sir Gawain is also known as the nephew of King Arthur of Camelot.
The character of Sir Gawain is viewed differently in English and French literature. In many French romances, he is not viewed as the primary hero, but as a sidekick to other well-known heroes such as Lancelot or Perceval. However, in English texts he is viewed as the hero who is an exemplary knight. In the texts of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and "The Wedding of Dame Ragnell," Sir Gawain clearly represents all of the honorable traits of a knight. These traits include chivalry, nobility, loyalty, honor, trust, and friendship. The unknown author of these two texts refers to Sir Gawain as a "good knight" and "the most noble knight."
King Arthur is viewed as one of Britain's greatest and most beloved kings. Every Celtic tribe has claimed King Arthur as their own king. When Arthur was born, it was not clear who his parents were, but it is known that he is teh child of Uther Peudragon and Merlin the Magician was his guardian. Merlin gave Arthur to Sir Ector at a young age, and under his care he grew up learning the ways of chivalry and knighthood. One day when Arthur was at a contest with his father, he fell upon a sword stuck in a stone. No one had ever pulled the sword from the stone, for the legend was that the person who was, in fact, able to remove it would be king. Arthur is the chosen one, removing the sword from the stone and becomes king.
Arthur is king of Camelot and takes Lady Guinevere as his Queen. The Lady of the Lake, whom we do not know much about, gives him his well-known sword, Excalibur. Arthur is also responsible for founding the order of the Round Table, whose quest is to locate the Holy Grail. Many love scandals also plague King Arthur's Court. The biggest scandal is the affair between Guinevere and Lancelot. When Arthur learns of the affair, he sentences them both to death, but somehow they escape. King Arthur eventually is later again together with Queen Guinevere. King Arthur finally lost his throne to his nephew Mordred in a number of battles. The final end of King Arthur is a deadly blow dealt by Mordred. It is claimed that Arthur was taken to Avalon by fairies and he will one day again return to Britain to regain his throne.
So as you can see the backgrounds of King Arthur and Sir Gawain, are much more detailed than the information presented in the two stories we have studied. The lives of these two characters are very complex, and many tales were involved with them. I believe that these two men were at one time the greatest leaders of Britain and their legend will live on forever.
1. Online. Internet. Available HTTP://darter.ocps.k12.fl.us/classroom/who/darter2/karthur.html Date Consulted 11/25/00
2. Online. Internet. Available HTTP://www.britannia.com/bios/ebk/gawaingn.html Date Consulted 11/25/00
3. Online. Internet. Available HTTP://darter.ocps.k12.fl.us/classroom/who/darter2/karthur.html Date Consulted 11/25/00
4. Online. Internet. Available HTTP://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/gawmenu.htm Date Consulted 11/25/00
5. Online. Internet. Available HTTP://www.legends.dm.net/kingarthur/ Date Consulted 11/25/00 (Picture)