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Chivalry is Not Dead!

Thursday Verseday with Arlinda

While the author still remains anonymous, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of my favorite poems from the Medieval Ages. It is written in four parts, each of which offers pieces of a tale told from a mystical, chivalrous, and Celtic standpoint. Sir Gawain is portrayed as a knight who risks his life in an attempt to prove his chivalry to King Arthur. This poem is told as a story with twists and turns prompting the reader to keep reading.

At first, Sir Gawain consents to a duel with the Green Knight in the hopes of appearing chivalrous in the eyes of King Arthur and the other Knights of the Round Table. Sir Gawain believed he had killed the Green Knight by chopping off his head; after realizing the Green Knight had survived the fatal blow, Gawain is forced in the name of chivalry to promise the Green Knight he will search for him and allow the knight to deliver a fatal blow in return. While on his quest, Sir Gawain rests at the home of Lord Bertilak de Hautdesert where the Lord’s wife tries to seduce Sir Gawain and tempt him to betray the kind Lord Bertilak who has allowed Gawain to rest in his home.

It is only at the end of part four that Sir Gawain realizes that Lord Bertilak de Hautdesert is secretly also the Green Knight! Sir Gawain discovers that King Arthur’s sister Morgan le Fay cast a protection spell on the Green Knight and sent him to King Arthur’s home in the hopes of upsetting Arthur’s wife Guinevere. This is conveyed when the poem states, “she put this magic upon me to deprive you of your wits/ in hope Guinevere to hurt, that she in horror might die.” Sir Gawain prepares and hopes for the best as he faces his second duel with the Green Knight. Will Sir Gawain’s chivalry save him, or will his time at Lord Bertilak de Hautdesert’s home lead to his demise? It is revealed that Sir Gawain’s quest was all along a test, one in which you’ll have to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to determine the rest!



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