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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Gawain, a knight of the famed King Arthur, is depicted as the most noble of knights in the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Nonetheless, he is not without fault or punishment, and is certainly susceptible to conflict. Gawain, bound to chivalry, is torn between his knightly edicts, his courtly obligations, and his mortal thoughts of self-preservation. This conflict is most evident in his failure of the tests presented to him. With devious tests of temptation and courage, Morgan le Fay is able to create a mockery of Gawains courtly and knightly ideals. Through the knight Gawain, the poem is able to reveal that even knights are human too with less than romantic traits.
In order to satirize Gawain's courtly ways, the poet must first establish the presence of perfect chivalric code in Gawain, only to later mock that sense of perfection with failure. This establishment of chivalric code is created in part through the expression used to describe Gawain throughout the poem. He is described as "noble" and "goodly" on more than one occasion, giving the reader a positive understanding of the poem's hero (405, 685). This courtly view of Gawain is further expresses by his noble acceptance of the Green Knight's beheading game, in order to "release the king outright" from his responsibility (365). Gawain was the first to accept the Green Knight's terms. His acceptance of the beheading game before any other person brings the assumption that Gawain represents the most noble of Arthur's court. Lastly, even the Green Knight compares him to other knights as "pearls to white peas" (2364), a sign of his higher status among men.
By portraying Gawain as noble and honorable, the poet is able to shock the reader with actions that are uncharacteristic of a chivalrous knight. The first of these conflicting actions is obvious in the temptation of Gawain by his host's lady. This lady, the huntress, seeks to pursue Gawain in order to fool him into actions that contrast the knightly ideal. She will do anything to accomplish these actions in him, even through sexual temptations. With another man's wife pursuing him, Gawain must be courtly to the lady, but at the same time must deny her advances. This unavoidable conflict creates a fear within Gawain. Upon discovering that the lovely lady was approaching him in bed, Gawain lays a sleep, in order to "try her intent" (1199). This action reveals Gawain's fear that his host's lady is pursuing him. This unavoidable fear causes his failure of courtliness, for Gawain would have claimed a kiss from the lady, but did not. The lady ridicules him for this, even though, the situation was unavoidable. Gawain must abide by his morals and abstain from immoral thoughts, while at the same time being a courteous guest. Moreover, Gawain is forced to make a choice between courtesy and adultery, either of which would result in the dishonor of the lady ,his host, or Gawain himself. By choosing to return each of the following kisses received, Gawain is able to pass the first of the tests. Even the passing of this test generates a conflict of morals within Gawain, revealing that his knightly order and supposed courtliness are of no use in a situation of hardship.
The second action uncharacteristic of an ideal knight is Gawain's dishonesty, brought out in the second test. Realizing that his death at the hands of the Green Knight was inevitable, Gawain's thoughts of self-preservation dominated his actions rather than thoughts of honor. His acceptance of the girdle of security from his host's lady exposes Gawain's fear for his life. A truly ideal and perfect knight would not keep the girdle in order to save his own life, because the host knight asked for an exchange of all things gained during the day. Yet at the same time, Gawain must obey the rules of courtliness, and accept the girdle from the host's lady. Therefore, Gawain falls into an unavoidable situation, in which taking or denying the girdle will result in insult to his courtliness, his honor, or his life. Gawain is human, and does fear for his life. Therefore, he keeps the girdle ... more
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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is set in a fantasy world that has differences, as well as similarities, to our own world. The author has created the novels world, Middle Earth, not only by using imagination, but by also adding details from the modern world. Realistic elements in the book enable readers to relate to the setting, yet have the ability to "imagine" exciting events and organisms not found on Earth.
The majority of differences between Middle Earth and todays world are found in objects and the actions of characters that can not be carried out or created in our world. The most abundant example of this in The Hobbit is the presence of magic. Gandalf, the wizard, is able to help the adventurers out of a number of dangerous situations by using his magical powers to harm their enemies. He set Wargs afire while he was trapped in a tree and created a bolt of lightening to kill many of the Goblins who had surrounded the group in a cave. The magical ring, which was a key to helping the group succeed in the book, allowed he who was wearing it to become invisible to others. Also, there was a black stream in Mirkwood that made he who drank out of it suddenly very drowsy and forgetful of previous events. All of these examples of happenings and objects found in Middle Earth are physically impossible in a world such as ours.
Several of the organisms in the book are not known to exist on Earth. Hobbits, of course, are fictional characters, as are dwarves, elves, goblins, and trolls. Many species of animals are able to vocally communicate with humans and dwarves in the novel, which is not possible on our planet. Beorn, a human who is able to morph into other creatures at an instant, is an excellent example of such fiction. The dragon, Smaug, is the main adversary of the fourteen adventurers and is a type of creature that has long been used in fantasy writing. Although most of the characters species are merely creations of the author, they all exhibit a sense of realism that causes them to seem almost human.
There is a vast difference between Middle Earth and the modern world, but there are also several similarities. In Middle Earth, there live humans, and hobbits, which are very much similar to miniature people. The language spoken and food consumed in the novels world are found in modern society. Also, the fact that Thorin Oakenshield is heir of the throne of the King under the Mountain and inherits all of the riches of the kingdom is like the parliamentary system of England. The environment and terrain the group passes through on their adventure is primarily the same as lands unchanged by humans and surrounded by nature appear today. In the novel, there are forests with miles of trees, high, rocky mountains, and flowing rivers just as there are here on Earth.
It is not possible that a fantasy story such as The Hobbit could occur in real life. However, I do believe that fantasy can effectively teach us about reality. There are morals, lessons, and themes to be found within the text that can help us gain knowledge and live our lives more productively.
Bilbo Baggins took a stand and raised enough courage to do something he had never thought of doing before, going on a great adventure. This choice caused Bilbo to gain endurance, bravery, an appreciation of his life, and many valuable experiences that made him a wiser person. Thorins selfish act of not wanting to share the dragons riches with the other towns citizens caused only bad events to occur. This teaches us that kindness and giving to others will not only benefit them, but will also cause you to feel more content inside. When the group of fourteen was staying with Beorn to rest, he gave them suggestions and information about the journey that lie ahead of them. He informed them about a black stream out of which they should never drink, no matter how thirsty they may be, for it would put them to sleep for days. If they ... more
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