Sir Gawain's Green Knight Character Analysis

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The Misconceptions of Reality

Why did the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight include a character with a bizarre complexion and magical abilities? Why do most people do weird things? Unfortunately, there is no obvious reason for the latter; however, there are quite a few explanations for the former. “The Pearl Poet,” as the unknown author is referred, wrote the poem around the late 1300s in England—a time and place in history in which knights, kings, and castles were not just parts of fairy-tales. One of the most important aspects of English society in the late 1300s was chivalry, or the ideal traits of a knight, which included courtesy, generosity, and romance. From the poet’s advanced literary techniques, many scholars consider him to be an educated man who had a purpose in creating such a peculiar character. Bertilak de Hautdesert, or the Green Knight, is a major character in the story for he serves as the antagonist to Sir Gawain. His set of circumanstances when deciding the challenges present the protagonist of the story with the main difficulties throughout the poem. Although he has multiple personalities throughout the poem (not only is Bertilak this fabled knight with abilities people can only dream that they have, but also The Host of the castle that Gawain stays at until the time comes to meet his own doom), which makes him a round character. The Green Knight is also definitely a static foil to Gawain. His entire character does not change throughout the poem—he has almost complete control of the events—and presents a contrast for the protagonist of the story. Although Gawain appears to be seen as possessing civilized characteristics, it is actually the antagonist of the story that possesses these traits. The Green Knight is not just a character with magical abilities, for he represents some of the most coveted human qualities—a friendly, well-rehearsed response to almost every situation and a strong desire to maintain the chivalric...
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