The Castles as Heavenly Homes in opposition to Nature as Depicted in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Yıldız N.

7th BAKEA International Western Cultural and Literary Studies Online Symposium "Home", Denizli, Turkey, 15 - 17 September 2021, pp.87

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Denizli
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.87
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a chivalric romance belonging to the late 14th century. The

author of the poem is unknown, yet is named as the “Pearl Poet” or “Gawain Poet” by the critics.

The poem is included in the manuscript Cotton Nero A.x. along with three religious narrative

poems: Pearl, Purity and Patience. Grouped into Arthurian stories, the romance embraces the

beheading game and exchange of gifts, two forms of folk motifs. As a typical romance, Gawain,

a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, is tested throughout the story to prove his valour and

knightly honour as well as his devotion to Christianity. Among the series of tests of Gawain,

nature stands as the most demanding phase in which Gawain tries to keep his bargain with the

Green Knight. Although the poem suggests a chivalric world in harmony with nature

traditionally symbolizing fertility and rebirth, nature, in fact, epitomizes a tumultuous, turbulent

structure which is in direct opposition to the civilised world in castles. In the poem, while the

castles are described as heavenly homes representing a warm atmosphere of safety and comfort,

nature is a place of danger and horror in which human beings struggle to survive as a matter of

life and death. Therefore, this paper aims to examine the contradiction between the castles and

nature, whilst the former serve as the blissful homes of knights, the latter typifies peril and

dread as a threat to courtly life.

Keywords: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, castles, nature, chivalric world, romance