The story of Gawain Poet’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight takes place in King Arthur’s Britain during the middle ages. Britain at that time is described as a land of wonders and numerous conflicts. However, King Arthur and his court were able to restore law and order. There the story of Sir Gawain begins.
Official historical sources state that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. According to Armitage: “It was probably written around 1400.” Scientists believe the events with which the legendary King Arthur is associated took place in the fifth and sixth centuries. Consequently, Gawain Poet wrote a romance with the setting of the early Middle Ages.
In the poem, the author describes a large number of legendary and real places in medieval Britain. Sir Gawain’s main route starts from Camelot to Castle Hautdesert through the northern lands of Wales. Modern researchers claim that both Winchester and Caerleon could have been the prototype of the mythical Camelot. It is important to note cities such as “Bangor, Conway, Abergele, Rhuddlan, and Flint.” The author also mentions Anglesey and the neighboring islands.
The first event that the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight describes is the winter feast at Camelot. A large number of noble knights and noble ladies came to this holiday. King Arthur himself, Queen Guinevere, and the central characters of the poem, namely young Sir Gawain, are also there. A little later, the supernatural Green Knight, described as a tall green man, comes to the feast.
The events of the poem last about one year. The author describes all seasons in detail, such as winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Gawain Poet also mentions such a Michaelmas feast, which was organized by Arthur’s court. Sir Gawain encounters and defeats various monsters and other creatures on his journey north. Then he meets a mystical castle. There he joins the Christmastide mass, the lord’s hunting party, and later, he talks with the lady of the court.
Gawain Poet pays great attention to the three days of the hunting party. During this multi-day ritual, Sir Gawain and the local lord become good friends, and the lady of the castle falls in love with Sir Gawain. It can be inferred that Sir Gawain was a high-class knight. It is due to the fact that hunting was considered the most elite pastime during the Middle Ages, which only lords and people close to them can enjoy. This episode can be interpreted as an attempt by Sir Gawain to forget himself for fear of meeting the Green Knight. However, the gift from the lady of the castle makes the knight remember his duty.
The author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight describes in detail the various elements of medieval knightly heraldry. For example, the Gawain Poet pays great attention to the shield that depicts the Pentangle. It is, in other words, a five-pointed star. It is also important to mention the green silk tunic – a kind of Chekhov’s gun of medieval literature.