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Who is the trickster in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a chivalric poem written in Arthurian tradition. The story is considered a classic of English literature. However, the story might appear confusing to the contemporary reader due to the lack of an apparent antagonist. In the novel, the trickster is Morgan Le Faye, who wanted to mock King Arthur’s Round Table Knights.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an exceptional piece of medieval literature. The story continues to occupy contemporary readers’ attention. Readers are fascinated by its unique plot, interesting characters, and historical significance. It is a chivalric poem of the Arthurian era that follows all the tradition’s significant points. The literary piece combines two central folklore motifs. It includes the beheading of the character and the interchangeable revenge in a tale about dignity and deception.

The readers are presented with a linear plot that amazes them with its unexpected finale. The poem narrates about knights’ and ladies’ gathering at King Arthur’s court. Suddenly, someone named the Green Knights appears. He challenges the King and his subordinates to a peculiar contest. The person is supposed to strike the Green Knight with an ax. But on the condition that he will return the blow in response a year later. One of the knights, Sir Gawain, agrees and beheads the opponent.

When trying to find the Green Knight to complete his end of the bargain, Gawain stays in a Bertilak’s mansion. There, he plays a game of honesty with him. Each day, the knight confesses that Bertilak’s wife has kissed him. On the third day, however, he is insincere about a girdle she gifted him. Gawain wanted to hold onto it because of its magic properties. In a final scene, Bertilak reveals his identity as the Green Knight. Morgan le Fay plotted this whole scenario to test the Arthur Round Table Knights and their virtues.

The story is relatively linear in its narrative. However, the antagonist’s motives and persona remain a mystery. Morgan le Fay appears to be the villain of the story. She was the one to plot the plan of the strange challenge. By using magic, Morgan disguised Bertilak as a Green Knight. She gave him the ability to be beheaded and stay alive. Furthermore, she lured Gawain into Bertilak’s mansion. There, she tried to test his honesty by seducing him through the cheating wife.

However, even when the Green Knight reveals his identity and Morgan’s plan, her motives are not entirely clear. The analysis of her actions in the poem and other pieces of Arthurian literature makes her plan apparent. The trickster’s main goal was to test the knight’s integrity. Morgan le Fay aimed at mocking King Arthur’s court by showing Gawain’s deception. To her disappointment, Gawain is almost honest, which indicates her failure.

Morgan succeeded to some extent. Sir Gawain did not disclose the wife’s gift to the husband. Yet, her overall plan went wrong since Gawain was praised for undergoing the challenge. This is shown by how other knights in Arthur’s court wear girdles around their hands to symbolize their support. Therefore, Morgan le Fay, “the moving cause of the entire plot,” is the trickster of the poem.

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IvyPanda. (2021, January 25). Who is the trickster in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/q/who-is-the-trickster-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/

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"Who is the trickster in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" IvyPanda, 25 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/q/who-is-the-trickster-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.

1. IvyPanda. "Who is the trickster in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" January 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/who-is-the-trickster-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.


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IvyPanda. "Who is the trickster in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" January 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/who-is-the-trickster-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Who is the trickster in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" January 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/who-is-the-trickster-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Who is the trickster in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'. 25 January.

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