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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.4, 605 ~ 630, 2020
Fictional Historicity: Gawain, an Evasive Knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and a Manipulating Knight in Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant
Seogkwang Lee
This paper, with recognition of the contribution which the abundance of the romance genre has made not only to the wide literary readership but to the historical understanding of medieval culture, looks at a part of the history of the House of Plantagenet in order to investigate the chivalric culture of the time and the reality of its practice in the Hundred Years’ War. What is found in this paper is the hideous practice of knightly chivalry, and its infliction of huge mental and physical scars, particularly to the common people. However, this chivalric rule was highly regarded in Victorian society in order to control the violent tendencies of its male citizens and to encourage decency. This hypocritical tradition is scrutinized via Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Buried Giant. This essay brings to light Gawain’s true nature in both works. Although his valour is recognized, he is peevish regarding his knightly pride. This ironically bears fruit in the tarnish he brings upon it by blaming his misconduct upon Lady Bertilak, who exposed him in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and by being bold enough to react spitefully to Beatrice in The Buried Giant, asserting his purity despite his manipulative concealment of a terrible slaughter. This essay holds that, much like the knights of Plantagenet, the notion of Sir Gawain as a chivalric knight is a fallacy, and rather than being an exemplar of ideal knighthood, he is a duplicitous figure.
Key Words
chivalry, medieval, Plantagenet, manipulating, evasive
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