King Arthur as Portrayed in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The beauty of literature is that it is one of the disciplines able to reveal already existing characters from different angles. King Arthur is present in many literary works and has become a cult character. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a Middle English poem by an unknown author about the spirit of adventure and courage of the knights written in the 14th century. In order to draw attention to the different characteristics, the book presents King Arthur from various angles but throughout the entire poem he remains the role model of the knight.

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The personal qualities of King Arthur are revealed in dependence on the situation of representation. His volunteering to swing at the Green Knight according to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight demonstrates his fearlessness, while his persistence in the decisions taken is shown in the situation when he refuses to eat on the feast day without entertainment. Additionally, according to St John King Arthur is demonstrating strong leadership qualities proven by his satisfied subordinates and knights errant such as the protagonist who join his court and for whom he is a hero (266). Moreover, followers are abiliding “Arturs rules” (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight). Thus, his personal qualities formed his environment.

In a knight, as in any warrior, the qualities that King Arthur possesses based on the poem are very valuable. This is one of the reasons for his devoted followers to always stand by his side (Higham 217). King Arthur is mentioned only in a few parts of the book, but at the same time his individuality is repeatedly emphasized. He always makes his own decisions and expresses the point of view which often does not correspond to the majority. Following from the description, the author tries to show the positive sides of the character, while not idolizing his actions, since sometimes King Arthur behaves as a spoiled or overly self-righteous person, but always adheres to his judgments, position and values.

Сonsidering that the book was written in Middle English and translated by various authors, the original initial meaning implied the author may be partially lost. However, it is obvious that the author repeatedly highlights the youthfulness of Arthur and his followers, while emphasizing his courage in making decisions and faith in the success in comparison with the others. A good example is his decision to swing in the Green Knight , while others doubt not only participation, but also themselves. King is presented as thinking before making a decision, he “steps forward and takes the axe” when no one else does (Warner 131). This is another proof that King Arthur acts precisely as a role model, motivates and shows how to act by his own example.

Summing up, King Arthur is presented by the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as an excellent ruler who is able to make informed decisions, motivate and attract people. The poem describes the features of the character in different situations, which allows readers to draw objective conclusions about his personality. King Arthur is brave, decisive and able to lead. Such qualities contribute to his success in attracting and managing loyal followers, while building his own personality. The author did not make King Arthur the main character, but revealed in detail his personal qualities as a knight. Precisely due to this set of qualities King Arthur acts as an ideal role model.

Works Cited

Higham, Nichonal J. “A British Arthur: Starting the Tradition” King Arthur: The Making of the Legend. Yale University Press, 2018, pp. 216-247.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Translated by Theodore Howard Banks, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1957.

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St John, Joseph. “Perspectives in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight : A Medieval    Transgressive text?” Antae Journal, vol. 3, no. 10, 2016, pp. 254-267.

Warner, Lawrence. “Notes on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The Chaucer Review, vol. 56, no. 2, 2021, pp. 125–152.

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StudyCorgi. "King Arthur as Portrayed in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." August 23, 2021.


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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'King Arthur as Portrayed in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'. 23 August.

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