Physical Quest In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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Violence, danger, and treasure are three things that immediately come to mind when the word quest is mentioned. Very rarely is psychology brought into the conversation. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, however, the quest that takes place happens mostly internally in the mind of Sir Gawain, emphasizing the importance of introspection and personal growth in one’s journey. Yet despite the atypical mental nature of the quest, the poem does follow some of the more traditional patterns of quest literature, including those of spiritual and physical questing. Spirituality is very much a part of medieval romance literature as well as all quests, as emphasized by the classic “sing in me, muse” that begins The Odyssey and its many counterparts. Sir…show more content…
However, few quests delve as deeply into psychology and internal struggles as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Right from the beginning, Sir Gawain’s character is drawn into question. He tells the court that he is the “’weakest of [King Arthur’s] warriors and feeblest of wit’” (354). His rationale for stepping in and taking King Arthur’s place, is that he recognizes his supposed worthlessness and believes his importance is only familial, as King Arthur’s nephew. His loyalty to his King, his uncle, is his call to action, prompting him to step forward and incur the risk. The struggle is evident, however, as Gawain also realizes that he is putting himself in harm’s way, as he is not as skilled as the rest of the court. This belief in his inferiority is also tested throughout the poem, as he is placed into situations in which he is cherished and worshiped, forcing him to decide whether or not to resist…show more content…
It is true that there is not as much death, brutality, or passion as one might expect going into the tale, however it is still filled with deep psychological and internal struggle, pain, and growth, which is just as enrapturing. Thus, even though the poem does follow some of the most common traditions of quest literature, what really makes it impactful is the emphasis placed on internal virtues and how they are more important than brute strength or bravery, because they speak to much more than a person’s physicality. Rather, they speak to what is truly important in life— that which is not seen but is crucial to each person: their
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