Sir Gawain - Passage Analysis


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight



James Thannickal
INT 296 B
Passage Analysis
Lines 712-762
Sir Gawain-- The Action Figure Coming Soon


Sir Gawain proves to be a hero and role model. Perhaps if Sir Gawain were living among us today, he would have his own line of action figures, comic books, and of course a line of chic evening wear! In lines 712 -762 in the Norton Anthology, we see that through dangerous foes and perilous weather, Sir Gawain leans on the strength of God to get him through his journey. Though he meets many dangers in the forest, he defeats them all, using skill and bravery. Traveling through horrid weather conditions, he keeps forging ahead, remaining true to his vow. And instead of blaming God, Sir Gawain leans on the solid foundation of his Christian beliefs.

His journey to find the Green Chapel where he expects to meet his end, is not a easy one. He faces many perils and dangers. In lines 720 -723 we see quite clearly his tribulations: Now with serpents he wars, now with savage wolves, now with wild men of the woods, that watched from the rocks, both with bulls and with bears and with boars besides and giants that came gibbering from the jagged steeps.

He faces many creatures that thirst for his blood, but he "..bears himself bravely.." (724). He meets dangers such as serpents, boars, wild men and giants. Any other knight would have run off or given up hope. However, Sir Gawain,true to his heroic nature, faces the slings and arrows of danger head on with a courageous heart. Some may have turned saying "I could not find the Green Chapel or the path there cannot be tread upon." Gawain makes up no excuses and charges ahead.

Gawain does not only face threats from physical beings, but from the heavens themselves. Adding to Gawain's perilous situation is the weather. The wailing wind, freezing temperatures and ice makes his journey almost unbearable. The poet compares them: "and if the wars were unwelcome, the winter was worse.." (726). If Gawain's battles with various creatures are horrible, the weather made his journey more difficult. Even the birds who are equipped with the right amount of plumage: "many birds unblithe upon bare twigs that peeped most piteously for pain of the cold" (743). Even nature's creatures who are used to dwelling among the elements were freezing, so one can imagine the effect it had on our noble knight.

Through all these perils and dire situations, Gawain never loses sight of his nobility and reverence for God. Gawain's trials and hardships many would have begged God for relief and shelter. Many tears would be shed, beseeching God to change the circumstances in their favor. However, Gawain asks for nothing of the sort. He asks God and Mary merely for a place to hear and participate in Christman Eve mass, because of his Christian duty. Many lines are devoted to his prayer, which reads: "I beseech of Thee Lord, and Mary....some harborage where haply I might hear mass and thy matins tomorrow--meekly I ask it and there to proffer and pray my pater and ave and creed." ( 754-758). He humbly requests God to grant him his request. Such meekness and modesty are surpassed by no one.

In this passage, only one impression can be made of Sir Gawain, which is gallantry. He is a gallant knight who tries his best to keep his honor and faith in God. Through wars with formidable enemies, forging hectic weather conditions, he keeps his faith in God. He might have easily gone back and told his fellow knights that he could not find the Green Chapel or the path could not be tread. This is not an option for our hero. He reachs his goal by passing through incredible odds. His obligation as a knight to keep his word possessed his will to reach his goal. If Sir Gawain did come as an action figure, no assembly would be required, because he has all the qualities knights should have and he is powered by his gallantry.





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James Thannickal Copyrightę 1998