But I looked at a couple of others and they seemed too formal and RP. However, he says about the translation, "the often-quoted notion that a poem can never be finished, only abandoned, has never felt more true. Even now, further permutations and possibilities keep suggesting themselves, as if the tweaking and fine-tuning could last a lifetime" - and a new revised edition was published in October , so there may even be more dialect in it now. Is that anything to do with its being an older, pre-Norman component of the language?

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Pages: 5 Get Full Essay Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is at once an adventure story and on many levels, an allegory for the moral struggle within. In fact, while many chivalric romances of this period, such as Chanson du Roland and Cantar de Gesta Cantar de Mio Cid are packed with epic battles against foes both natural and mythic, the story of Sir Gawain is rather more subdued.

On his way to have his head struck off by the Green Knight in exchange for a similar blow Gawain had delivered to him t he year before, Sir Gawain stops at the castle of Lord Bertilac de Hautdesert, who takes him in as an honored guest. Each night, he resists her advances, limiting his natural physical responses to one kiss the first night, two the second night and three the third night.

In the end, she presents him with a magic girdle that similar to many other myths will make him physically invulnerable. The other part of the deal was that while Lord Bertilac would give Gawain whatever he was able to catch that day, Gawain would in return give his host whatever he had received. In this case, he was obligated to accept the girdle. However, he reneged on his deal with Lord Bertilac, choosing to keep the girdle in order to preserve his life when he faces the Green Knight.

Gawain is tempted and expected to resist two of the most powerful human motivators — the desire for sex and the desire for survival. He succeeds on the first point, but fails on the second. More significantly, Gawain is able to resist sexual temptation through his own strength — but when it comes to saving his own life, he must resort to trickery and subterfuge, both of which are unworthy of a true and honorable knight.

On his first hunting trip, Lord Bertilac goes after deer; deer-hunting during the Middle Ages was a ritualized affair, and had to be done in accordance with specific guidelines. On the second hunt, he goes after boar, which is known to be a very dangerous animal, particularly when wounded; boar-hunting was often a test of courage in medieval times.

And in fact, Bertilac winds up facing the boar in violent, mortal combat. The third hunt however is for fox, which has a reputation as a wily creature that is difficult to capture; able to use a wide range of tricks in order to escape. Her first attempt at seduction is rather sedate and even playful. In the second seduction Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Burton Raffel — 3 attempt, Lady Bertilac becomes more aggressive — like the boar.

Yet Gawain, like his host, is ultimately triumphant. Why would Gawain, a Knight of the Table Round and therefore bound by a strict code of honor, successfully resist sexual temptation, yet deceive his host by withholding the girdle — and furthermore, attempt to cheat the Green Knight out of his rightful due?

Herein lies another contradiction. While it is true that the survival instinct is perhaps the strongest motivator for any normal life form, the fact is that Christianity also considers suicide to be a sin.

By keeping his appointment with the Green Knight, Gawain was in fact committing ritual suicide, which according to the theology of the time, would surely have condemned him to eternal punishment in Hell. While Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has pagan overtones as we would expect, given the origins of the Arthurian cycle , it is the product of a Christian culture. It would seem sacrilegious to think of the Lady as a personification of Mary, unless we consider the possibility that the attempted seductions were in fact tests of character — and that by resisting such temptation, Gawain had become worthy of Salvation through her Son Jesus as represented by the girdle.

The chivalric code in its time was both an ideal and in itself a metaphor of what might be construed as a Christian ideal, and in fact the influence was mutual. In light of this story and hundreds of similar tales, it is not surprising that Christian mystics of the time such as Marguerite of Henegouwen and Johann Eckhart should use the same language of courtly love and chivalric codes in describing the relationship between Man and God.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Burton Raffel Essay



Sir Gawain and the Green Knight




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