English 1022E Lecture Notes - Dane Axe, 1998 In Pride Fc, Mithraism
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English Lecture on “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” (around October 26, 2011)
On the Board:
Symbol = Many meanings
Emblem + Allegory = One meaning
Picture of an axe and a sword
C. Stephen Jasger
The Origin of Manners
c. 939 - 1210 > manners emerge in Western Europe
“Not erasing the board after a lecture is like not flushing the toilet after you are through” - Albert
-The court of King Arthur is presided over by a proud, boyish, excitable King. Everything was
not right as it should be in the court of a Christian King
-Suddenly the Green Knight comes in. What does the Green Knight stand for? He ‘hurtles’ l.36
into the room. Maybe he represents the raw vitality of nature. The court of King Arthur has
become openly sophisticated and artificial.
-Gawain goes into the raw world of harsh cold seasonal change.
-He goes at Advent, a time of preparation and waiting for Christians.
-Colour: l.150-231 that he is green as green can be. Everything about him is green which has
led some ctritics to believe that he is a vegen god. That he was a Nature God.
-Gold is associated with him too. Green and gold are the colours of the winter Solstice.
A residue perhaps of mithraism, a roman religion that worshipped the Sun.
-There are residues of beliefs from long ago in our modern world
-In this time Christian Writers thought that green was associated with death because corpses
turned green (prior to invention of embalming) Green is a colour associated with the
-Also associated with the devil (green tail).
-He for sure is supernatural looking, larger than life, and associated with death. He comes from
the North, which is also associated with death and the devil.
-The Green Knight seems to be an extraordinarily ambiguous figure.
-l.203-209: The Green Knight does not wear armour. He does not come to fight or make war,
but he comes unprotected presumably with a peaceful purpose.
-He comes with two adjuncts. A symbol suggests many meanings, but an emblem or
allegory has a one to one relationship with a particular abstraction relevant to the