Version 2: (Christina Bauer)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Passage Analysis (713 - 994)
Wyrd and Christianity
My passage, the section in which the magical castle appears to Gawain, emphasizes the importance of Christianity in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Praying to Mary and Jesus helps Gawain survive frigid weather and encounters with wild animals on his journey to find the Green Knight. The confidence Gawain feels that comes from having faith in God is similar to the comfort warriors take in being guided by wyrd in Beowulf. By praying to Mary and Jesus, Gawain strengthens his chances of survival in his quest and is more able to continue his dangerous journey into conflict. In Beowulf, the warriors’ faith in wyrd makes them brave in battle because they believe it is predetermined who will survive. In both stories, belief in supernatural forces helps warriors in battle. Christianity and wyrd have very similar functions.
Praying to Mary and believing in God keep Gawain safe. On Christmas Eve, Gawain “prays with all his might/ That Mary may be his guide/ Till a dwelling comes in sight” (737-739). Gawain asks Mary to protect him until he finds a place to stay. This prayer allows Gawain to “glide,” riding Gringolet, through the treacherous woods, which are of “hazel and…hawthorn…all intertwined” and “rough raveled moss” (744-748). Gawain only survives encounters with “serpents,” “wolves,” “wild men of the woods,” “bulls,” “boars,” “bears,” and “giants” because he is “on God’s side” (720-724). Gawain’s faith and loyalty to Christ help him live through potentially deadly meetings with these creatures and to pass safely over rough terrain. Christianity provides safety.
Gawain’s faith also brings him shelter and rewards him for his bravery in his journey. Gawain prays again to Mary and Jesus for a “harborage” where he can “’hear mass” and “crosses himself” (755, 762). This prayer makes a castle that looks as if it had been “cut of paper” appear (802). The lord who owns the castle receives Gawain graciously. The servants bring Gawain into a warm room with a fire burning, dress him in expensive robes, and give him a feast with “double-sized servings” (832-894). Gawain is so well received that the lord’s people say that Gawain was sent by God to the castle. The people say, “great is God’s grace…/That a guest such as Gawain he guides to us here” (920-921). The story suggests that if a warrior has faith in God, he will be helped in a time of need, which is a kind of reward for the warrior’s faith. Faith and prayer can guide a warrior through danger into safety.
The idea of a supernatural guiding force is also present in Beowulf. Beowulf says “Wyrd often spares/ an undoomed man, when his courage endures,” when he discusses the swimming contest he had with Breca in which Beowulf survived attacks by sea monsters (527-573). Beowulf’s faith that wyrd, fate, had already decided whether he would live or die enables Beowulf to fight the monsters to the best of his ability without being paralyzed by uncertainty. When Beowulf makes the above statement, he implies that his courage did endure; he was spared. Thus, wyrd rewards and helps produce a warrior’s bravery at the same time. Like Christianity, wyrd rewards warriors for their faith in it and can help a warrior to be brave. Both Beowulf and Gawain are rewarded for putting their fates into the hands of supernatural forces. Both Beowulf and Gawain are brave enough to continue dangerous feats because of wyrd and Christianity respectively. In his explanation of wyrd, Beowulf proclaims that faith in a good fate can save a warrior. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written down, it is the Christian God who can save a warrior.
Wyrd and the Christian faith are related. In English literature, both are said to help warriors. Both can produce and reward bravery. Gawain puts himself at the mercy of God, and Beowulf puts himself at the mercy of wyrd. These actions help the warriors fight in battle and reward them at the end. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf, Christianity and wyrd are different ideological frameworks of the same concept that there are supernatural forces, which help men in battle if the men have faith.