Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Monster Analysis

1509 Words7 Pages
Friedrich Nietzsche, a prominent leader in the existentialist and postmodern movement, once stated, “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.” Stereotypically, monsters are viewed as the foil to humanity, devoid of reason, compassion, and the gentle nature of humans. Contrary, humans are often portrayed as valiant and reasonable beings, who protect kin and society from evils. Nevertheless, there is only a small difference between the two sides, and they are brought into continued interaction with each other. In these interactions, by challenging the physical and psychological processes of human nature, “monsters” are able to test conventional understandings of humans, forcing them to choose between keeping…show more content…
. . ] Gay was this goodly man in guise of all green/ And the hair of his head to his hors suited” (1.150-1.180). By all accounts, the Green Knight appears to be a monster, an implication only furthered by his brazen challenge to Arthur’s court. When his challenge is met with silence, the Green Knight demands, “Whose fame is so fair in far realms and wide? Where is now your arrogance and your awesome deeds, Your valor and your victors and your vaunting words! [. . .] Overwhelmed with a word of one man’s speech” (1.305 - 1.315). Shocked by the physical differences and brash challenges of the Green Knight, Arthur’s court forgets to abide by the chivalric code, which dictated the conventional understanding of human nature in that time period. Perhaps, the Pearl Poet alludes to the fact that under great physical differences, the convention of human nature at that time disintegrates. Furthermore, during his supposed execution at the hand of the “monster”, Gawain shows fear by flinching, an act that conflicted with the chivalric code. The Pearl Poet writes, “As down it[the axe] descended with death-dealing force/ And his shoulders shrank a little from the sharp iron” (4.2265-4.2268). This incident only reinforces that when the physical norm of humans is challenged by monsters, the conventional understanding of human nature falls
Open Document