Falling Knights: Sir Gawain in Pre and Post Malory Arthurian Tradition

Majed Kraishan, Wasfi Shoqairat


The present study traces the development of Sir Gawain’s traits in the Arthurian legend through an analysis of Arthurian literature in early medieval works, in transition, and in modern cycle. It aims to show what makes Sir Gawain a multiple character and how his plastic character has appealed to the literary, political, and social taste of the time of his creation and recreation. The focus will be upon the roles that the new characteristics of Sir Gawain should fulfil and the reasons which stand behind this transition in his character.

The study examines the representation of Sir Gawain as a heroic knight in mainly three texts from the medieval and modern English Arthurian tradition: Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae Sir Thomas Malory’s De Morte Arthur, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Some references are made to other contemporary texts. These texts range from literary to history, providing a broad overview of the many ways in which history and romance approaches the question of the roles of knighthood and chivalry through the figure of Sir Gawain.

By exploring these narratives in their historical and social contexts, the present study explains why Sir Gawain maintains certain characteristics across a particularly eventful period in English history, as well as why certain characteristics change drastically. It will also offer new insights about public perception of medieval notions of knighthood and chivalry.

All translated quotations from Historia Regum Britanniae are taken from Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of Kings of Britain, translated by Sebastian Evans (London: Dent, 1963). All Latin quotations from Wace’s Roman de Brut: A History of the British are taken fromWace, Wace’s Roman de Brut: A History of the British, edited by Judith Weiss (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002). All quotations from the Arthurian Section of Layamon’s Brut are taken from Layamon, Layamon’s Arthur: the Arthurian Section of Layamon’s Brut, edited by W.R.J. Barron and S.C. Weinberg (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001). All quotations from Idylls of the King are taken from Alfred Tennyson, Idylls of the king, edited by J. M. Gray (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983).

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v13n1p54

World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'sciedupress.com' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders. If you have any questions, please contact: wjel@sciedupress.com