Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a medieval romance poem written anonymously, likely in the late 14th century. The narrative centers around Sir Gawain, a knight of the Round Table, who accepts the challenge presented by the mysterious Green Knight. The Green Knight proposes a game in which Gawain is allowed to strike him with an axe, but in a year and a day, Gawain must seek out the Green Knight and endure a similar blow in return. The poem explores themes of chivalry and the testing of a knight’s virtues.

Set in the Arthurian legend, the poem is firmly rooted in the medieval literary tradition. It is one of the four major poems that make up the “Alliterative Revival,” a literary movement in Middle English poetry characterized by the extensive use of alliteration. The tale unfolds in a richly detailed medieval world, with Gawain’s journey taking him through enchanted landscapes and testing his moral character.

Contemporary readers appreciate Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for its exploration of the complexities of honor and morality. The poem’s enduring appeal is also attributed to its intricate structure, poetic language, and the mysterious and magical elements woven into the Arthurian narrative. As a seminal work of Middle English literature, the poem has been studied for its historical and cultural significance.

Explore the full poem summary, an in-depth character analysis of the Green Knight, and explanations of important quotes from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

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