In Which I <3 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

I like this translation

I first read this years ago, when I was going to City College. I remember being on the second floor of the Sociology building, waiting for my Physical Anthropology class to start. I loved the class, but didn’t really like the other students, so I was cocooning myself in a new book. Well, new to me.

I expected it to be dry, but I wanted the challenge. Thumbing through the introduction, I decided on skipping it entirely (I’ve since read it several times) and dove into the text. The way I approached literature changed instantaneously as I sat on the floor of the concrete hallway.

The scene is set, the tale populated, and then there’s gore– gloriously green and crimson gore. And then the beheaded Green Knight picks up his own head and keeps talking. It. Is. Awesome.

Beowulf was cool, too, but it never intrigued me as much as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Why? I mean, Beowulf was made into a movie (or was it two movies?), which I had absolutely no desire to watch. But Sir Gawain… Why has nobody filmed it?

The four major characters are all dual-natured, making for instant interest, instant characterization. Sir Gawain is one of the noble knights, but he’s also there because he’s family. He comes to King Arthur’s aid, but has a bit of bloodlust, shown when he strokes the blade of his sword while the Green Knight talks to him. He is tempted and often overcomes temptation– but not always. And he doesn’t get preachy or priggish about how he tries to overcome temptation and keep his honor. It’s a struggle for him to keep on the straight and narrow, and he lets us see this struggle. He’s an interesting character who reacts interestingly to the situation he chooses to get himself into.

Galahad and Lancelot have nothing on Gawain.

I wonder if I could use this somehow, the symbolism at least. I’m rereading it now, and it’s short. There’s use of Pentangles, and lots of green, of course. I think I need to do more research. How can I incorporate some of the Green Knight imagery into my story?


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