In a story all about the adventure of

In A Handbook to Literature, medieval romance is as “tales of adventure in which knights, kings, or distressed ladies, acting under the impulse of love, religious faith, or the mere desire for adventure, are the chief figures” (Holman). Medieval romances also follow six key characteristics: a tale of high adventures, structurally follows the outline of a quest, idealizes chivalry/good behavior, imaginary/vague setting/moves from court to wilderness, gets mystery and suspense from supernatural elements, and a repetition of the number three. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, closely follows these definitions, making it a perfect example of a medieval romance. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, is a story all about the adventure of Sir Gawain trying to find the Green Chapel so he can confront the Green Knight as per the Green Knight’s request. One of the opening scenes is that of the Green Knight challenging King Arthur’s court to find a noble knight, Sir Gawain. Gawain then chops off the head of the Green Knight. Then the Green Knight picks it up and leaves (Weston 9-16). This is just the start of Sir Gawain’s high adventure. Along with the adventure elements, this story also follows the quest outline, because of its structure as well. In a quest the hero is after something. Sir Gawain is after the Green Knight at the Green Chapel. On quests, “the hero’s face many temptations and trials” (Hero’s Journey). Sir Gawain also faces many of these. Throughout Gawain’s quest, we are never given a definite setting–the entire story is set in a vague setting. Random locations are given and described vaguely. Sir Gawain starts in the court of King Arthur and goes out into the wilderness in order to track down the Green Chapel to find the Green Knight like he promised he would do. The final important characteristic of the medieval romance, is the repetition and use of the number three. In the story, Gawain stays at the castle for three days, the Lord kills three animals, the Lord’s wife comes to him three times, and he is given three kisses (Hahn 350-460). Chivalry is a reoccuring theme in the story. Throughout the tale, Gawain’s main goal is to remain chivalrous. He bravely steps up to the plate to challenge the Green Knight, he risks giving his conventional lifestyle as a knight, and risks his life altogether. He adamantly stays on his task, insisting to follow through with it, despite several instances where he could escape his fate. He is able to stay honorable and trustworthy to the Lord despite being tempted by lust from the Lord’s wife. Gawain accepts all his challenges not as an act of arrogance or bravery, but as an act to stay chivalrous, which is evident to be of utmost importance to him. This is the final and arguably the most defining feature of this novel; establishing it as a medieval romance. Gawain is ultimately successful in his quest. Chivalry and bravery prevail over death. Because of these qualities, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight should not only definitely be classified as a medieval romance, it should be declared one of the finest romances of the Middle Ages.

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