Games And Rituals In Sir Gawain English Literature Essay

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In the Arthurian verse form Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written by an writer known merely as the Pearl poet, tradition was the force that fostered bonds between the members of King Arthur ‘s land. These traditions, demonstrated through games and rites, non merely strengthened the relationships between companions, but they besides strengthened the relationship between King Arthur and his followings. A strong bond between a leader and the members of a community is, in the instance of King Arthur ‘s land, a stating mark of the strength of that community. As we travel through the text, there are several illustrations of traditions, rites and games throughout ; each served a different intent for the characters of the verse form and while some rites demonstrated the unity of an person, others were merely for blithe merriment.

The verse form began in Camelot with the jubilation of a tradition still acknowledged by communities all around the universe: “ Christmastide ” ( 37 ) . Christmas signifies the terminal of the twelvemonth for many communities and while this vacation is an obvious spiritual symbol of the jubilation of the birth of Christ, it besides acts as an recognition of the “ decease ” of one twelvemonth and the impending “ birth ” of another. King Arthur and his “ good knights and gayaˆ¦guests ” ( 38 ) celebrated with “ banqueting and family and unworried hilarity ” ( 40 ) . At the tallness of Camelot ‘s glorification and the clip period in which “ Sir Gawain ” was written, “ the banquet was in force full 15 yearss ” ( 44 ) enduring all the manner to New Year ‘s twenty-four hours. During these 15 yearss of jubilation, the knights and invitees took topographic point in many community rites, such as “ jousting ” and “ carol-dancing ” ( 43 ) .

These two interests had assorted intents for the knights and ladies. Jousting gave knights a opportunity to turn out their strength to the others and to do a name for themselves, while besides moving as a bonding mechanism. Jousting was an of import rite for a knight such as Gawain to partake in, because as the youngest knight in Camelot, he had more of a demand to turn out himself to the others as able and strong ( 351-355 ) . Dancing had a really different intent from jousting. It gave knights a opportunity to be gallant, while besides moving as a signifier of courtship and a manner to demo honor and humbleness to the ladies. Dancing was a really appropriate manner to foster relationships between work forces and adult females during mediaeval times.

Games were non needfully planned in progress, but frequently seemed to be the consequence of a caprice. In a civilization such as Camelot, where tourneies were extremely valued and to win was to be held in the highest respect by all, games were initiated at the slightest chance to give rivals a opportunity to do a name for themselves and gain regard from their equals and higher-ups. King Arthur, often said to be a baronial leader, initiated a game during the banquet by saying that he would non eat until he “ had heard foremost of some just effort or frazzle some far-borne taleaˆ¦ ” ( 93 ) . Harmonizing to the text, “ such is the male monarch ‘s usage ” ( 100 ) to bespeak a valorous narrative while keeping tribunal. By declining to eat until he has heard a glorious narrative, the male monarch gave his community a opportunity to non merely show their humor, but besides to gain his favour, herewith further developing the bond between himself and single members of his land.

The games were by and large wholly in good merriment, with much laughter and gaiety from rivals. Knights were known for their humbleness and courteousness and to be a “ sore also-ran ” would be looked down upon by all. However, the merry ambiance of the Christmas jubilation changed instantly upon the reaching of the green knight. He was non merely preternaturally strange-looking, “ for adult male and cogwheel and all were green as viridity could be ” ( 149-150 ) , but he was besides a alien to Camelot and a really daunting adult male. This alien strutted into Camelot with a intent, and despite the warm welcome he received from King Arthur, he suggested the first game that was non blithe and merry ; a game that would probably, in the eyes of the tribunal, consequence in decease.

The green knight suggested a game of exchanges between himself and a member of King Arthur ‘s tribunal, an exchange of axe blows: “ as stoutly to strike one blow for another ” ( 287 ) . While cheerful games of exchange had been played during the jubilation, such as snoging games, this new game of exchanges was baleful. Camelot ‘s reaction to the unsafe game suggested by the green knight shows the reader the earnestness and deep significance of Camelot ‘s games and rites to their community. While no 1 in the tribunal was comfy with the game that has been suggested, which they demonstrated with uncomfortable silence upon hearing the footings of the game, they besides did non experience able to merely disregard the suggestion ; even if it resulted in the decease of the most of import member of the community: King Arthur.

The green knight used Camelot ‘s repute to spur the knights into take parting in his game, first speech production of their celebrity “ so just in far kingdoms and wideaˆ¦ ” ( 309 ) and so saying that they “ aˆ¦all cower and temblor ” ( 315 ) . Yet even though the knight called his challenge a “ game, ” connoting carefreeness and something that should be gratifying, King Arthur was non willing to set the repute of his tribunal at interest by declining to play and he agrees to the conditions. By stepping in and offering to take King Arthur ‘s topographic point, Gawain had the most to derive out of all of his companions. He showed humbleness by stating “ I am the weakest, good I know, and of wit feeblest ; And the loss of my life would be the least of any ” ( 354-355 ) . Gawain truly was the most expendable knight because he is the youngest ; as the youngest, he besides has the most to turn out. Gawain hoped to stop the green knight ‘s life with his axe blow, which would salvage him from holding to have an axe blow from the green knight in one twelvemonth ‘s clip. However, the green knight non merely has a supernatural visual aspect, but besides supernatural abilities. After losing his caput with Gawain ‘s axe blow, the green knight retrieved it, now severed from his organic structure, and continued on his manner with a reminder that Gawain must keep up his terminal of the deal in one twelvemonth ( 444-459 ) .

After the passing of a twelvemonth, Gawain prepared to honour his deal as portion of the game and hunt for the green knight ‘s Green Chapel. Again, the reader sees grounds of the earnestness of games in Camelot ; no 1 attempts to convert Gawain to remain place and fell from the green knight, even though they all believe the terminal of his life is at hand. On one manus, this dedication to honouring one ‘s word shows the importance of righteousness in King Arthur ‘s tribunal ; yet on the other manus, willingness to give up one ‘s life over a game shows a folly, or naivete, in this epoch. However, because this thought of honouring one ‘s word at any cost was so of import to Camelot, Gawain truly had no other pick but to honour his word by seeking for the Green Chapel and perchance deceasing as a consequence, or be shamed everlastingly by his full community.

As Gawain searched for the Green Chapel, he stumbled upon a new game at the place of a sort Godhead and lady who offer him shelter from the fierce winter storms ( 725-734 ) . Another game of exchanges, Gawain agreed to take everything the Godhead brought place from his runing jaunt in exchange for anything Gawain earned while loosen uping at his host ‘s place ( 1105-1109 ) . Games were such a manner of life to Gawain that he did non waver to hold to the footings, nor did he happen it unusual that his host suggested playing a game. This game appeared to be in good merriment and to decline would be to disgrace the Godhead. This type of game besides acted as a adhering mechanism between Gawain and the Godhead, because as they shared their twenty-four hours ‘s net incomes with each other they developed a bond and a sense of regard for each other. The Godhead showed himself to be a liberally sort adult male by offering all of his runing profitss to Gawain, because he would probably non have much from Gawain in return.

The game suggested by the Godhead is combined with another common medieval ritual: hunting. Hunting was a necessary interest in the Arthurian epoch to supply nutrient for the household, but it was besides a interest greatly enjoyed by many. Huge hunting parties would sit together in hunt of their game and hunting was an exhausting, all-day event. The maestro of the family, his retainers, and his Canis familiariss would lift at morning to acquire ready and the immense hunting party would rupture through the countryside in hunt of game. The “ Pearl poet ” used hunting in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to demo apposition between the Godhead on a hunting expedition versus Gawain, kiping in late and loosen uping at the house ( 1178-1180 ) . By loosen uping, Gawain was portrayed as vulnerable and naA?ve to allow his guard down, particularly because the Godhead and his married woman were aliens to Gawain. When the Godhead ‘s married woman attempted to score Gawain, we once more see apposition between Gawain and the huntsmans. This clip, the comparing was between the Godhead runing his game and the Godhead ‘s married woman hunting for her quarry: Gawain. The runing facets of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight would hold been really well-known and meaningful to a mediaeval audience, as hunting was such a large portion of their civilization.

As mentioned above, the Godhead ‘s married woman attempted to score Gawain during every forenoon of his full stay. Gawain and the lady were playing a game of kinds, merely this was a game of seduction. Both parties inherently knew the regulations, because Gawain ‘s knightly code kept him wholly bound by the outlooks of a knight ‘s codification of behavior, of which the lady was absolutely cognizant. Gawain ‘s codification left him in an highly slippery state of affairs. On one manus, he was unable to give in to the seduction because it would hold been dishonourable to the Godhead. On the other manus, he was besides unable to turn down the lady ‘s seduction, because it would be ill-mannered and would abash her.

Gawain must play a game with the lady and contrivance her every effort at seduction without disgracing her or mortifying her. She foremost flattered him by saying “ Your award, your courtesy are highest acclaimed ” ( 1228 ) . Gawain thwarted this flattery by keeping his knightly humbleness and saying “ I am one all unworthy, and good make I cognize it ” ( 1244 ) . Through all of the bantering, Gawain praised his host as the better adult male. The lady continued her seduction effort with esteem and flattery and Gawain attempted to maintain the lady at bay, all while staying gracious. Finally, the lady realized she has lost her effort and accused Gawain of being person else ( 1293 ) . Startled, Gawain worried he had failed in his courtesy and begged her to explicate what she meant ( 1294-1295 ) . She claimed that a knight such as Gawain would non allow a lady go forth his bedrooms without a buss and so he granted her one buss ( 1306 ) .

Gawain ‘s game of seduction with the lady continued for each twenty-four hours of his game of exchanges with the host. For each twenty-four hours of the game, Gawain received the same figure of busss from the lady and each eventide, he gave those busss to his host as his “ net incomes ” for the twenty-four hours, though he refused to state the host from where he received the busss ( 1395 ) . On the concluding twenty-four hours of the game, Gawain is offered a love item from the lady in the signifier of a ring. Gawain refused this item, because the ring represents matrimony, love, and adult female ‘s sexuality- all of which are representative of the lady ‘s relationship with her Godhead that would be dishonourable for Gawain to accept ( 1817-1823 ) . The lady so offered her green girdle to Gawain alternatively. Gawain found himself, yet once more, in a delicate state of affairs. If Gawain were to decline all of her gifts, it would be considered rude and travel against his chivalric codification. However, by accepting the girdle, Gawain would be obligated to present the girdle to the Godhead as his 3rd twenty-four hours profitss. However, upon hearing that the girdle makes the wearer immortal, he chose non to present it to his host on the 3rd twenty-four hours and alternatively, merely gave the Godhead the busss he received from the lady.