Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an Arthurian poem; an enchanting story of chivalry, romance and heroism. With its intricately woven details, parallels and symbols, the reader will often easily overlook these facets in a story of this caliber. Undoubtedly, the author would not have spent time on details that do not add to the meaning of the overall telling of the story. The three hunting scenes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and in parallel, the three temptations, monopolize a considerable portion of the story. In a comparison of the three hunts and their corresponding temptations, we will see how the poet parallels these circumstances to emphasize the meaning of its symbolism. In Medieval times, people believed many animals had human qualities, which is consistent with the telling of this story. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight comprises three hunts; each of a different animal, which the poet describes in great detail. "Certain facts about the animals which formed the quarry of the medieval huntsman
and certain popular beliefs about their habits and temper" (Savage 32) help the reader to see the parallels between the hunts and the temptations, which could also be seen as a kind of hunt. Through his incredible use of imagery, the poet describes the hunting party in the first hunt as it moves through the forest noisily with their horns and hounds, hunting for deer. "The proud lords appear, appareled to ride,/Leap lightly astride, lay hold of their bridles,/Each on his way to his worthy house./
Then they harnessed in couples the keen-scented hounds, /Blew upon their bugles bold blast three;/" (3.1130-32, 1139-41). As the huntsmen shout out and blow their horns, the deer run and try to hide: "Deer dashed through the dale, dazed with dread;/" (3.1151). The deer are quick and alert. The hunt requires that the huntsmen be patient. Gawain is like the deer which symbolizes innocence and purity. He is innocent and pure in his chivalry and knighthood. He tries to...
Cited: Savage, Henry Lyttleton. The Gawain Poet Studies in his Personality and Background. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956.
Langland, William. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2000. 158-210
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