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Hunter Houston

Mrs. Caldwell

English 12

1 February 2007

                  Biblical References in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

       Biblical references frequently appear throughout Sir Gawain and the Green

Knight. The story was written in a time where the rules and morals of Christianity were

followed very strictly. The Green Knight approaches the Knights of the Round Table and

offers a proposal to the Knights. Sir Gawain being the brave and loyal Knight that he is

accepts his offer and is given an axe to cut off the Green Knight’s head. What the Sir

Gawain did not know was that the Green Knight still was alive after being beheaded. He

told Sir Gawain that he had a year and a day to return for his death. The story is more

than what is seen; because it has many biblical references that tie the ideas from each

character into one main point. Everything was literal and exact. In Sir Gawain and the

Green Knight, John Gardner portrays the biblical references that give explanation to the

origin and background of the novel and how the story is told.

   A main character that has a lot of biblical references is the Green Knight. The Green

Knight approaches King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, in which Sir

Gawain accepts his challenge. The Green Knight first quotes scripture. He describes Sir

Gawain as being “confessed so clene” and that “no priest be sought”. He says this

because Sir Gawain repents for his actions and handles the situation with honor and

chivalry. In the bible, only Jesus could be powerful enough to cleanse people of their

sins and say they have no more wrongdoing. The Green Knight shows many similarities.
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The Green Knight also states that “the world was made of flesh” (John 1:14) and that “all

flesh is grass” (Isaiah 40:6). He is saying that the world was made for humans and that

our bodies are the grass to our own souls. If the main character and his main ideas and

points are coming from the bible then it is safe to say that the story is biblically based.

The Green Knight is performing the random acts that transpire from a bigger meaning

and they show evidence that come from the bible.

         A commonly repeated theme throughout the story is the theme of Christmas.

After the Green Knight gets his head chopped off and still lives he gives Sir Gawain a

year and a day to return for his turn to be beheaded. This “year and a day” resembles the

annual occurrence of Christmas. Like Jesus’ birth, the Green Knight is reborn when his

head is chopped off. This story is described as “…near the surface, a Christian poem”.

The overall theme is a Christian one. “…as Christmas itself is Christian; Christian in

harmony with pre-Christian nature belief and ritual, a Christian re-interpretation of

these.” The story is described as a Christian re-interpretation that has nature rituals and

beliefs. The Christmas theme defends and secures the idea that the story is biblically

based and has a Christian origin behind it. The story taking place in winter only leads us

to believe that it in near Christmas time. “Arthur looks for a marvel, Christmas being the

season of marvels (what could be more marvelous than a birth in the dead season” and

indeed the ceremonial banquet has hardly commenced…” This describes Christmas as a

ceremonial banquet which could also describe Sir Gawain’s ceremonial return to his


         Like the Christmas theme, supernatural events frequently occur throughout the

story. We do not know of the supernatural powers of the Green Knight until his head is
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cut off and we are surprised that he is still alive. At this point we know that the theme of

this story has a bigger meaning. When we witness the rebirth of the Green Knight we can

relate it to that of Jesus after being hung on the cross. This scene ends and Sir Gawain

goes to find hope for his life before returning the next year. He then encounters a

transformed Green Knight in the form of a king. Sir Gawain does not know this but the

Green Knight is testing him on his journey. This scene resembles Satan in the Garden of

Eden when he transforms into a snake to test Eve. The biblical idea of transformation

and testing the innocent shows us the background of the story.

               Through the transformation and the challenges put out by the Green

Knight we can gather a resemblance of biblical stories such as the one in the Garden of

Eden. The Green Knight also has biblical resemblance to Jesus when he is reborn after

he is supposedly killed by Sir Gawain. Not only do actions of the Green Knight show us

this resemblance and prospect of origin for this story being biblically based, but he also

quotes scripture. The appearance of scripture shows us the Christian theme and the ties

to the Christmas story. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, John Gardner portrays the

biblical references that give explanation to the origin and background of the novel and

how the story is told.

To be very blunt, you use three pages to say very little. I think you are trying to prove the

origin and the background of the story, which is a tough feat in itself. You do not do this

     because you get caught up in proving several things like: The story has Biblical

 references, supernatural elements, and characters that resemble Christ. This is all over

 the place, and if you take out the pseudo introduction, you barely have 2 ½ pages. This

                         needs work and needs some serious support.
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               English 12 Literary Research Paper Rough Draft

CATEGORY 4                              3                       2                        1                      Total
Thesis           Is clearly stated as   Is a complete           Is a complete            Is not a complete      2
Statement        a complete             sentence and            sentence and             sentence and/or
                 sentence and tells     provides some idea      provides little idea     provides no
                 exactly what the       as to the content of    as to the content of     information as to
                 paper is about         the paper               the paper                the content of the
Body             Are logically          Are arranged in a       Are somewhat             No logical             2
Paragraphs       arranged and easy      reasonably logical      logically arranged       arrangement and
                 to follow              order and               and slightly difficult   very difficult to
                                        somewhat easy to        to follow                follow
Paragraph    All paragraphs       Most paragraphs      Paragraphs                        Paragraphing           2
Construction include introductory include introductory included related                  structure was not
                 sentence,              sentence,               information but          clear and
                 explanations or        explanations or         were typically not       sentences were
                 details, and           details, and            constructed well.        not typically
                 concluding             concluding                                       related within the
                 sentence.              sentence.                                        paragraphs.

Sentence         Uses a variety of   Uses a variety of   Uses some variety Uses no variety in 3
Structure        sentence structures sentence structures in sentence        sentence structure
                 with few mistakes   with some mistakes structure with many
Amount of        All topics are         All topics are          All topics are           One or more            2
Information      addressed and all      addressed and           addressed, and           topics were not
                 questions              most questions          most questions           addressed.
                 answered with at       answered with at        answered with 1
                 least 2 quotes or      least 2 sentences       sentence about
                 sources about          about each.             each.
Quality of       Information clearly    Information clearly     Information clearly      Information has        2
Information      relates to the main    relates to the main     relates to the main      little or nothing to
                 topic. It includes     topic. It provides 1-   topic. No details        do with the main
                 several supporting     2 supporting details    and/or examples          topic.
                 details and/or         and/or examples.        are given.
Mechanics        No grammatical,        Almost no               A few grammatical        Many                3
                 spelling or            grammatical,            spelling, or             grammatical,
                 punctuation errors.    spelling or             punctuation errors.      spelling, or
                                        punctuation errors                               punctuation errors.
Format           Follows MLA format Follows MLA format Follows MLA format Does not follow                       2
                 with a few minor   with some errors   with many errors   MLA format
Sources          All sources            All sources             All sources         Some sources are 2
                 (information and       (information and        (information and    not accurately
                 graphics) are          graphics) are           graphics) are       documented.
                 accurately             accurately              accurately
                 documented in the      documented, but a       documented, but
                 desired format.        few are not in the      many are not in the
                                        desired format.         desired format.

                                                                                         Total: 20/40
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Chance, Jane. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

        Yale University: Mayard Mack, 1986.

Parkins, Ronaldo. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." W.W. Norton and Company. 2

        Feb 2007 <http://csis.pace.du/grendel/projs3d/begi.html>.

Reed, Frank. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

        I1996 1 February 2007 <>.

                               Electronic Peer Review

This process is going to feel a bit like musical chairs.
Follow these steps:
     Open your first draft and this document on your laptop.
     Trade seats or laptops with someone. Each of you will type directly into the opened
        documents on the laptop. So you are reviewing theirs and they are reviewing yours.
     When you are finished with the documents, copy/paste THIS review to the end of your
        partner’s first draft. (That way the review and the paper are in one file)
     Use the specific saving process indicated at the end of this document to save the
        draft/review in the Student Projects Folder under your period number for Mrs. Caldwell to

Do a review of a classmate’s essay. Answer questions directly into this document using
italics or a different color font for your answers. Please put a space between questions.
If you need help using the Reviewing Tools in MS Word, see the following file in the
Student Projects Folder: mswordfeatures.pdf . If you do not see a reviewing toolbar go
to View/Toolbars/Reviewing. You are not editing the paper, but if you see a glaring
error, highlight it in yellow.

1.      Do you have a sense of why you should be reading the essay? (the “so what”
        What is it? Biblical references gives you something to relate to as you read the
        Where is this indicated? In the thesis and in the end of most paragraphs
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2.     Is there enough text cited so that you can follow the student writer’s point clearly
       and be effectively persuaded?yes

3.     Do you have a sense of what all the pieces of the essay add up to? yes
       Where does the writer articulate this sense clearly? In the end of the paper

4.     Does the writer help you get from one paragraph to the next so that you have a
       sense of direction throughout the essay? sometimes
       Where is this indicated or not indicated? Going from the Christmas topic to the
       supernatural was a hard transition but you make it seem easy.

5.     a.     Where are you persuaded to agree with the paper’s direction? yes
       b.     Disagree?
       c.     Not understand what the point is? Not understand what the big deal is?

6.      What do you like most about the essay? The Christmas idea and how the green
knight is reborn

7.     Write in your own words what you consider to be the writer's thesis. The writer
       uses biblical references as a tool for the reader to connect.

8.     Identify the writer's major points by highlighting them in pink within the body

9.     Identify citations by highlighting them in blue.

10.    Describe the writer's strongest claim and explain why you think so. the reborn
       and second chance claim is the strongest because there is so much text support
       with that claim.

11.     Comment on the essay as a whole. The essay is good but nothing is ever

12.     Make at least 1 suggestion for content improvement. Make sure to make citations
after quotes. At the end of each paragraph go back to the thesis and really drive that
point in hard.

13.    How many sources are cited in the paper? three

14.    How many quotes/paraphrases are evident within the paper? nine

15.    Does the paper have any major structural problems? Not that I could see but I
       suck at structure.
       (Indicate mechanics or sentence structure issues by inserting a comment.
       Number each error –1,2,3…- and add commentary. Do not correct-only
       comment or suggest)

16.    On a scale of 1-5 (5 being best), rate this paper and indicate its ability to stand on
       its research as reliable and on its claims to be addressed in the author’s words.
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       3 the paper is good but the argument could still use some work but it is a solid
       first draft

17.    How many pages are the document not including the works cited? three

18.    Go into Page Setup and write what the margins are here. 1 on top and bottom
       and 1.25 on the sides
       Also indicate the font and size used. 12 times new roman

19.    Do you see any MLA issues in the paper? no
       Please insert comments to indicate the problem or missing element. (format,
       header, title, block quote, citations, etc)

20.    Is there a working bibliography (Works Cited Page) attached? yes
       Which source is cited most often? The Bible
       How many times total is it cited?3

When you are finished, copy/paste this document at the end of the first draft you are
      reviewing. Save the new file in the following manner:

Author’s Last Name/ PR by Your Last Name

Parker PR by Murphree

Save this into the Student Projects Folder under your period number. Also save a copy
       to their flash drive.

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