About “Sir Gawain and the Green Night,” James Winny (1995) writes, “The poem is written in a regional dialect characteristic of north-western England at the time of composition, which internal evidence suggests took place during the last quarter of the fourteenth…
Due to social and economic conditions, their equation was drastically imbalanced, and Sir Gawain entered to fill in the vacuum, through this literary masterpiece. He was a strong supporter of feudal hierarchies and opposed the progressive changes vehemently.
The women can build or break the society. This story is no exception to that premises. Any philosophical/spiritual text deals with the pair of opposites. In this poem the contending forces, the opposing forces, the forces that do not see eye to eye with each other are Virgin Mary on the one side and Bertilak’s wife on the other side. The former is the prototype of noble qualities like obedience, chastity, and spiritual life. The latter is for disobedience, courtly love, lust and decay and death of human values.
According to the Gawain poet, the ascendancy of chivalry over religious values does not augur well for the well-being of the society. The society when it adopts such values will head for destruction. Traditional religious values must get the first honor. Feudal system gives solid support to this aspect. The poem has a strong ideological base, though it reads like the romantic celebration of chivalry. Not all agree with this viewpoint. William Goldhurst (1958) writes, “As I see it, the major theme of Gawain and the Green Knight is the idea that the primitive and sometimes brutal forces of nature make known their demands to all men, even to those who would take shelter behind the civilized comforts of court life.”(p.61)To understand this properly, one has to grasp the religious values of Christianity prevailing in the fourteenth century. Chivalry of Gawain needs to be evaluated from that context. Christian religious values vs. chivalry, as per the accepted values then, did not see eye to eye with each other. The agreement between them on any issue was rare. Strong differences persisted as for the worth of human bravery as compared to love of God. As ...
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