Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Account of Literary Qualities

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Account of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’s Literary Qualities

The narrative of Gawain has a dark tone that is only briefly referenced. The story is centred upon the trials of Gawain but the entire plot is drawn out from this tone: Morgana’s hatred of Camelot. She takes on the role of puppet master, though her presence in Bertilack’s castle as the old crone is only revealed along with the explanation of the games and the unravelling of the plot. I felt that her role presented an opportunity to develop not only an understanding of her motivations, but more importantly to mirror the Gawain text’s allusions to the fall of man by presenting Morgana as a medieval terrorist and bitter temptress: Morgana believed that because of their games, their bravado and quests, Arthur’s court would decline and Camelot would fall. She feared that if they were ever aware of the emptiness of their codes, then they would save themselves and procreate, saving Camelot. Her game would give the knights something new in which to place their pride and valour; ever ignorant of their own faith, prudence and the future. She knew that Gawain would take the girdle as a sign of his weakness, his lack of faith, and his forsaking of the chivalric code. But she also knew that because the household at Camelot were so full of themselves, they would take the sash and make a new game of it as a sign of honour (over the sign of perfidy it represents for Gawain). This, she believed, would keep the knights from foreseeing their final doom. The romance of Gawain’s quest lies not in his encounters with the Green Knight but in the triangle of conflict between chivalry (the knights’ code), faith (religion’s code) and mortal-fear (man’s will for survival). Morgana wants to deconstruct the knights’ conceit that the three can exist in harmony and prove that man cannot escape his construct and fear of death. She uses their games to subvert their codes of chivalry and faith in favour of lies and enchantments....
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