The Green Knight

7033 Words29 Pages
No matter the interpretation of the vibrant hue, the color green plays a significant role in the Middle English poem probably written near 1400 A.D., Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (afterward referred to as SGGK). In his essay explaining the importance of the color green in SGGK, Brewer states that the Gawain-poet (labeled such because the poet�s name is unknown) uses the color green 44 times in this poem (181). Likewise, the Gawain-poet uses this color only eight times in the additional three poems he wrote. If the color green is an important symbol in SGGK, then the enigmatic and paradoxical Green Knight must be the primary character of study if scholars are to determine the relevance of the color. The reader encounters the importance of the color green when the Green Knight enters King Arthur�s court unannounced during the New Year� feast searching for someone �in �is court a Crystemas gomen� (I.13.283). The poet describes the Green Knight with exceptional detail and the reader finds the Green Knight�s color to be the paramount feature at first glance. About the Green Knight�s green skin, Benson writes, �[his skin] which occurs at the exact center [of his description, in line 149], allows the poet to unite the two antithetical figures in a single portrait� (92). Benson suggests that the poet combines two traditional figures in the Green Knight�s description: �the literary green man� and �the literary wild man.� However, scholars have intensely debated the meaning of the Green Knight, thus shedding light on the poem as a whole, during the entire 20th century. A particular interpretation of the Green Knight offered initially by E. K. Chambers suggests the Green Knight to be a vegetation or nature god due to the outcome of the beheading game at Arthur�s court. Gawain bravely accepts the challenge of the Green Knight: to offer a buffet with the great
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