Camelot: The Archetypal Environment

This essay Camelot: The Archetypal Environment has a total of 1243 words and 5 pages.

Camelot: The Archetypal Environment
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the setting plays an integral role in the
meaning of the poem. The three settings are all inseparable from the events which take
place there and the manner in which Gawain is affected by the inhabitants. Camelot, Lord
Bertilak's castle and the Green Chapel and their characters are considerably distinct from
each other, each affecting and appealing to Gawain in a particular way. Because of its
many positive qualities and familiarity, ultimately, the most attractive and appealing setting
is Camelot.
Lord Bertilak's castle has several positive aspects but is not the most appealing
because most of these elements are deceptive and potentially dangerous. Although the
castle appears magically, it seems realistic because it is "most comely that ever a king
possessed," (42) and, much like other ornately decorated wealthy mansions, "there were
curtains of costly silk" (45). The citizens and knights are "many worthy men" (45) and
Gawain is given the designation that "most welcome he was of all guests in the / world"
(47). The castle appears to be the ideal place to serve as a knight for the lord is at "his life
at the prime," (45) and the lady "more lovely than Guinevere" (48). The people enjoy gay
dancing and "so a wondrous wake they held," (50) that the days in the enchanting castle
are pure bliss. Yet, exhibited by the omission of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, there is
much deception to this seemingly perfect castle. The members of the castle do sit and give
respect according to a certain hierarchy; but, at the high seat next to the Lady and Lord,
sits a pudgy, hideous woman who is directing this mysterious setting. Although Morgan le
Fay makes the castle seem welcoming and ideal, Gawain's stay there will be marred by a
test. Lady Bertilak's determined pursuit to win his love is not an invitation to courtly love
but rather a trial of his chastity and chivalry. Her boldness in inviting Gawain to seduce her
is an inappropriate gesture which can only lead to danger. The castle, however lavish and
traditional it seems, is a magical entity which is used as an instrument to test the twenty-
five fold perfection of Gawain. Ultimately, Gawain leaves Lord Bertilak's castle no longer
able to wear the pentangle which epitomizes the perfection and completion of a genuine
knight, but leaves wearing the girdle. This seemingly helpful and life-preserving cloth is
rather a symbol for the portion of the

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