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English 406 - Discussion on Sir Gawain & The Green Knight Part II Lecture Notes

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University of Calgary
ENGL 406
Jacqueline Jenkins

October 23, 2012 English Notes What themes are introduced in beginning that are carried throughout the poem (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight): - magical/fantastical - emphasis on honor and feudalism o honor bound male world - codes of behavior o hospitality - Arthur wont eat until he’s encountered some fantastical thing o Arthur expects things from his subjects  Positive/negative?  Arrogance/pride in Arthur o Image has gone to his head; they haven’t been challenged in their power o He feels invincible o Expects something to come to him  Naïve/immature  Youthful - Green Knight wants to talk to the host; Sir Gawain steps up for Arthur - Conditions of Game – beheading game challenge o Blow for blow: come up and give me a blow but 12 months later I will also give you a blow - Arthur jumps in a desperate attempt to save face; o No one else offered themselves o This is bad because it’s the knights that have to serve Arthur and if something happens to Arthur, the kingdom will fall apart - Sir Gawain steps up o Says Arthur is most noble but you should share the glory with others o If I die no one will miss me, nothing will be affected; if you die, we will fall apart o Gawain covers up the cowardice of Arthur’s court - Do we blame Arthur’s court for not jumping in? o If we look in the context of feudalism, and conventions of that society, they did indeed fail o But if we take a step back, can we blame them for not stepping up to die - Gawain is a fighting warrior o As a character he is concerned with vows and honour  Especially with Arthur’s honour  He is the one that has to save Arthur’s neck  He is Arthur’s nephew o He has obligations to Arthur due to blood and because he is a knight of Arthurs o He is stand-in not only for Arthur but for the
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