Notes on Objects & Places from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Objects/Places

Camelot: The mythical home of King Arthur and his court; the historical Arthur is said to have held his court at Caerleon-upon-Usk, on the border of southern Wales. Modern depictions of Camelot have characterized it as an ideal place. Attempts at actually finding Camelot have placed Arthur's court in Cadbury castle, citing archeological evidence from excavations carried out in the late 1960's.

Green Chapel: The green chapel is the supposed abode of the Green Knight, and the place to which Gawain is sent to keep his end of the bargain with the Green Knight. The green chapel, it turns out, is nothing more than a strange mound covered in grass, all part of Morgana le Fay's attempt to prove Gawain's cowardice with the challenge of the Green Knight.

Gringolet: Sir Gawain's horse, who is always beside him on his journey and his only consistent companion on his journeys.

Shield: Gawain's shield is the center of his protective gear, and a perfect symbol of knightly ideals. It represents at once the idea of protection from earthly harm, and with the pentangle symbol, the profound Christianity (and thus heavenly protection) that was necessary to knights' culture. It is also a reflection of the profound Christianity of the poet, for he explicitly takes time out from the story to describe in detail the shield's symbol - five blended triangles symbolizing truth and known in England as the 'infinite knot.'

Wirral Forest: The Wirral peninsula is located in Northwestern England, centering on the modern-day city of Liverpool.

Deer: On the first day of the game between Gawain and the lord (Bercilak de Hautdesert, also the Green Knight), the lord hunts for deer, while Gawain receives one kiss from the lord's wife.

Boar: On the second day of the contest between Gawain and de Hautdesert, the lord spends all day tracking, chasing and killing and enormous wild boar, which he finally kills and brings home triumphantly. For his day's work, Gawain receives two kissed from the lord's wife.

Fox: On the third and final day of the 'contest' between Gawain and de Hautdesert, the lord brings home a fox, while Gawain received three kisses from the lord's wife.

Golden Ring: After Gawain refuses both the lord's wife's proposals and her request for a gift, Gawain also refuses to accept a golden ring from her, saying that he could never accept a gift with nothing to give in return.

Green Belt : In lieu of the ring, the lord's wife insists that Gawain accept her green belt as a gift. Gawain refuses until she assures him that it is magic and as long as he wears it he cannot be killed. Gawain takes it, thinking of his meeting with the Green Knight. The belt proves to be Gawain's moral downfall, because he wears the belt out of fear of death. Later, he learns that it has all been a setup by the Green Knight (who is also the lord) and his wife. The belt in not really magic, and when the Green Knight points that out, Gawain is ashamed of himself and returns home dejected at his imperfection. Arthur and the other knights of the round table offer to wear green belts at all times when Gawain tells them his story, as reminders of the possibility of imperfection.

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