Medieval Romances

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
&
Le Morte D’Arthur
Characteristics of a
Medieval Romance

 Convey a sense of the
supernatural
 Mystery and suspense
 Glamorous portrayal of castle life
 Chivalric ideals: character guided
by bravery, honor, courtesy,
fairness to enemies, respect for
women
Characteristics of a
Medieval Romance

 Heroic adventures
 Setting is often imaginary/vague
 Concealed identities/disguises
 Damsels in distress
The Romantic Hero

 Birth is often mysterious
 Either away from his true home or
does not know his parents
 True identity is often unknown at
first
 Faces extraordinary challenges
 Triumphs and victories benefit a
nation or group
Romantic Heroes vs.
Epic Heroes

 Supernatural elements
 Heroic adventures  epic quests
 Extraordinary challenges
 Victories benefit groups of people/nations
Sir Gawain and the
Green Knight

 Sir Gawain: king Arthur’s nephew and
one of the bravest Knights of the Round
Table
 Follows the code of chivalry
 Story highlights Gawain’s flaw: his fear
of death causes him to break the code of
chivalry
 Appearances vs. reality: Gawain appears
to be chivalrous and honest, but is
neither when faced with death

Background

 ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ begins with a New
Year’s Eve feast at Camelot
 Dinner is interrupted by a giant green knight with an ax
 The Green Knight rides into the hall on a green horse and
issues a challenge
 He will allow whomever accepts the challenge to strike
him with his own axe, on the condition that the
challenger find him in exactly one year to receive a
blow in return
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