The morality play The Summoning of Everyman and the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are two popular works from Middle English literature that people have been reading and enjoying for centuries. Both of the main characters, Everyman and Sir Gawain, have a journey to death; however, each character endures their journey differently. Gawain accepts his passage to a certain death while Everyman his surprised by Death’s appearance and begs for more years of life rather than go on the pilgrimage he is commanded to take. Another similarity between Everyman and Gawain is that they confessed their sins in order to receive penance. Both characters displayed contrition and remorse for their previous actions, confessed their sins, and received penance and absolution. Although both experienced the same four elements of the Sacrament of Penance, Everyman and Gawain were seeking absolution for different reasons and had different reactions after absolution.
Everyman and Gawain’s journeys to death both appeared unexpectedly and were guaranteed to be long and brutal. On New Year’s Day, a giant green knight dressed entirely in green and gold on a green horse approached King Arthur’s court in hopes of finding someone to accept his challenge that if one struck him with an axe, in a year and one day the green knight may strike that person in return. When seeing that King Arthur was flustered, Gawain bravely stood up to the challenge saying that “such a foolish affair is unfitting for a king”. After he strikes at the green knight and is reminded once more of the pact he agreed to, Gawain and the people of Arthur’s court continue to dine, drink, and enjoy their holiday. Not until Christmas Eve (with roughly a week left to find the green knight at the green chapel) do we see Sir Gawain start to become distressed, “praying with a heavy heart”. After his stay at Bertilak de Hautdesert’s, Gawain once again displays confidence towards his journey of certain death against...
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