The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Anderson, J. J. "The Three Judgments and the Ethos of Chivalry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 24 (1990): 337-55.
The writer of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight carefully presents most elements of romance while simultaneously critiquing romance. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the poet connects religion to chivalry so that the two elements are inseparable. The poet deemphasizes the supernatural elements, and permits the narrative to point to the subtext, a critique of chivalry and romance. Gawain, Bercilak, and Arthur represent three thematic elements that give three judgments of Gawain's behavior. The poet depicts the different sides of Gawain and of chivalry so that readers scrutinize the ethos of chivalry.
Blanch, Robert J. "Supplement to the Gawain-Poet: An Annotated Bibliography, 1978-1985." 25 (1991): 363-86.
This bibliography fills the need of medievalists for a more complete bibliography of criticism on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Purity, and Patience.
Blanch, Robert J., and Julian N. Wasserman. "The Current State of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Criticism." 27 (1993): 401-12.
Current criticism centers on the problem of "poetic closure" through "historical backgrounds and cultural studies; socio-historical interpretations . . .; feminist analyses; semiotic theories; psychological investigations; and myth-and-ritual stances" (401). New Historical approaches would greatly benefit scholarship on this poem, as would the application of psychoanalytic and feminist theories.
Breeze, A. C. "Chaucer's Miller's Tale, 3700: Viritoot." 29 (1994): 204-06.
The term "viritoot" most likely means "fairy toot" or "fairy hill," given the exchange of f- for v- sounds and the other recorded meanings of "toot" in English. The word "viritoot" probably derives from words meaning "old witch" and referred to a woman like the old woman in the Wife of Bath's Tale or Morgan la Fay in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Burlin, Robert B. "Middle English Romance: The Structure of Genre." 30 (1995): 1-14.
Middle English romances did not exist solely for entertainment. Included with the delightful elements of the romance were social, spiritual, and class concerns. The paradigmatic axis of the romance is the chivalric and courtly codes, apparent in works like Havelok the Dane, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Marie de France's Lanval, and Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Chaucer also makes use of this code in the Knight's Tale and in Troilus and Criseyde. On the syntagmatic axis are the quest and the test. The Knight's Tale, Malory's Morte, and Sir Orpheo use the chivalric and courtly codes together to create narrative tension. In Sir Orpheo, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Roman de la Rose, however, any attempt to put the narrative on the syntagmatic axis fails because such tales only work in the context of idleness. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight shows a different interpenetration of the two axes in that Gawain is both a courtly lover and a questing knight, but he can handle only one code at a time.
De Roo, Harvey. "Undressing Lady Bertilak: Guilt and Denial in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 27 (1993): 305-24.
Gawain's admission of guilt occurs at a surprising place in the narrative, and though he confesses cowardice, he also admits guilt for a sexual fault, even in the face of the Green Knight's pointed comments. Gawain's behavior in the bedroom with Lady Bercilak "violates the logic of the pentangle, thus contributing directly to his downfall" (311). The world of Arthur's court is a kind of artificial courtesy; Bercilak's world is the real world in which Gawain must make hard choices. In setting Gawain up for his encounters with Lady Bercilak, the poet contrasts two conceptions of Gawain, one as a Christian knight faithful to Pentangle virtues and the other as a ladies man. Gawain's invective against women is a result of a pattern of denial consistent in Gawain's behavior throughout the poem.
Donner, Morton. "The Gawain-Poet's Adverbs." 26 (1991): 65-82.
The alliterative tradition uses more flat adverbs than adjectives and requires them to carry more weight. Adverbs are particularly useful in alliterative verse because they can modify intransitive verbs and non-alliterative subjects or objects. Adverbs also work to "keep the sound of [the] words in harmony with their syntax" (68). The Pearl-Poet also uses dual-form adverbs, inflected adverbs, and adverb pairs in a variety of patterns throughout Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, and Purity.
Finlayson, John. "The Knight's Tale: The Dialogue of Romance, Epic, and Philosophy." 27 (1992): 126-49.
The Knight's Taleis a unique romance in English, and does not follow the typical romance form. Chaucer takes Boccaccio's characters and treats them much differently, though Chaucer does follow the traditional romance opening as seen by comparison to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Ywain and Gawain, and the Alliterative Morte Arthure. Chaucer invokes the tradition of courtly love when Palamon and Arcite see Emily, though he adds the debate as to who has prior claim. Chaucer also takes great pains to elaborate the few differences he selects from Boccaccio, and then reverses the differences left in his sources so that Palamon becomes more like Boccaccio's Arcite. Chaucer also adds philosophical material to each character. Theseus's final speech, while Boethian in tenor, also cues the reader that the Knight's Tale is about "love and order and dignity and continuance" (147).
Foley, Michael M. "Gawain's Two Confessions Reconsidered." 9 (1974): 73-79.
Gawain's confession to the priest is not invalid because there is no suggestion of superstition about the girdle from either Gawain or Bercilak. The poet carefully denies the material value of the girdle, and Gawain has not broken his oath because the exchange-of-winnings agreement is not an oath but a game. Gawain is more guilty of having been false to knighthood. The two confessions are necessary because they deal with the crimes against parallel codes of conduct, the Christian code, and the knightly code.
Foley, Michael. "The Gawain-Poet: An Annotated Bibliography, 1978-1985." 23 (1989): 251-82.
This bibliography attempts to continue where earlier bibliographies left off, filling the need of medievalists for an updated bibliography of scholarship related to the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and manuscripts bound with it.
Hollis, Stephanie J. "The Pentangle Knight: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 15 (1981): 267-81.
Gawain's response at the end of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight directly derives from his desire to restrict his view of himself and his behavior. Gawain defends himself first by assigning his failure to cowardice, then to women, then to human weakness, and finally to the disease of cowardice (again). The writer carefully presents Gawain as knight. The Pentangle, symbol of Gawain's virtue, is a device to be removed or put on as Gawain desires. The Green Knight presents Gawain's fault as Gawain's own, but Gawain never fully realizes his failings.
Ingham, Muriel, and Lawrence Barkley. "Further Animal Parallels in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 13 (1979): 384-86.
Gawain's refusal to flee his battle with the Green Knight and his steadfastness in the face of the Green Knight's attack parallel the boar's response when Bercilak hunts it.
Levine, Robert. "Aspects of Grotesque Realism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 17 (1982): 65-75.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight uses elements of grotesque realism to create irony. The poet associates "food, sex, and money" and employs "images of slaughter and dismemberment, crowning and uncrowning" as part of a game (74).
McColly, William. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a Romance a Clef." 23 (1988): 78-92.
Internal evidence marks Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as having been written in the last 25 years of the fourteenth century, probably in Cheshire or Staffordshire. Historical figures can be suggested to correspond with different figures in the poem on the basis of striking similarities between those figures and characters in the poem. Numerous resemblances connect Sir Robert de Vere to Sir Gawain and Sir Hugh Calveley to Bercilak, the Green Knight.
Metcalf, Allan A. "Sir Gawain and You." 5 (1971): 165-78.
The use of the pronoun "you" in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight demonstrates the poet's knowledge of the formal "you," the familiar "thou," and the situations which require use of one or both forms of the pronoun. [For typographical corrections, see "Editor's Note," 6 (1971): 157.]
O'Mara, Philip F. "Holcot 'Ecumenism' and the Pearl-Poet." 27 (1992): 97-106. (The title in the table of contents for that issue is "Robert Holcot's 'Ecumenism' and the Green Knight, Part II.")
The Pearl-Poet presents the Green Knight in such a way that he evokes a number of principles from Holcot's Moralitates. The preponderance of such occurrences and evidence surrounding the poem suggest that the Pearl-Poet knew Holcot personally. Certainly the Pearl-Poet's views make him likely to accept without question the story presented in St. Erkenwald.
O'Mara, Philip F. "Robert Holcot's 'Ecumenism' and the Green Knight." 26 (1992): 329-42.
Holcot's works and theology deeply affect the works of the Pearl-Poet. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains both piety and revels and is built around paradoxical characters and events. Though Bercilak is a pagan, the poet seems to suggest that he is "in the way of salvation" (333). Holcot and other fourteenth-century theologians argued about how good deeds related to the salvation of the unsaved. Holcot believed that God could grant salvation to someone who was not baptized as did mystics like Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich who held similar and sometimes stronger views of God's love. Both Patience and Pearl deal with salvation of the unsaved or the untaught, as does St. Erkenwald, another poem of the alliterative revival.
Quinn, Esther C. "Chaucer's Arthurian Romance." 18 (1984): 211-20.
In the Wife of Bath's Tale, Chaucer borrows from Marie de France's Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. By reversing the roles of the male and female, allowing Guinevere to decide the young knight's fate and the old woman to rescue him, Chaucer increases the sense of irony in the tale that supports and questions possibility of a harmonious conclusion.
Reed, Thomas L., Jr. "'Bo[th]e blysse and blunder': Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Debate Tradition." 23 (1988): 140-61.
The Pearl-Poet built Sir Gawain and the Green Knight on a dialogic structure that suggests the poem's affinities with the debate tradition. That the poet does not reach any real conclusions does not disqualify the poem as a debate, since many debate poems do not reach resolution. The poet presents events from many angles. Gawain's use of various magical defensive devices suggests a dialogue between chivalry and Christianity. Given sources and analogues like the Owl and the Nightingale, Winner and Waster, the "Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie," the Parliament of the Three Ages, and Ressoning betuix Age and Yowth, readers may see the poem as a series of arguments between youth and age, spring and winter, life and death. Gawain's experience with Lady Bercilak brings to mind the débat amoreux. Gawain is also tried in verbal argument. Other poems grouped with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Patience, show similar debate structures. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is most likely a kind of recreation, as demonstrated by the Christmas games of Arthur's court.
Rendall, Thomas. "Gawain and the Game of Chess." 27 (1992): 186-99.
Chess was a popular game in medieval romances often played between the sexes as an excuse for courting. Also, the stake was often the loser's head. Other medieval works such as Les Eschez Amoureux, Garin de Montglane, Huon de Bordeaux, Book of the Duchess, and Guy of Warwick depict chess as part of the game of courtship. The use of chess terms to describe the game in which Gawain and the Green Knight participate suggests that the Pearl-Poet wants to present this game as if it were a game of chess.
Sanderlin, George. "'Thagh I were burde bryghtest'--GGK, 1283-1287." 8 (1973): 60-64.
Though this line in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has created confusion for scholars, maintaining the manuscript reading does make sense. First, Lady Bercilak must know of Gawain's appointment at the Green Chapel since she is so important to getting him there. Second, the shift in point of view is not unusual in older literature since consistency in point of view was not important. Lastly, the manuscript reading makes Lady Bercilak a three-dimensional character with feelings.
Sanderlin, George. "Two Transfigurations: Gawain and Aeneas." 12 (1978): 255-58.
When the Pearl-Poet describes Gawain's face as "ver," he alludes to Aeneas's transformation before his rendezvous with Dido.
Smith, Macklin. "Sith and Syn in Chaucer's Troilus." 26 (1992): 266-82.
Though the forms for "since" do not generally alter readings of lines in which they occur, awareness of "syn," used less frequently than "sith" or "sithen" shifts readers' perceptions of the lines in which "syn" appears because "syn" implies some kind of moral judgment. Chaucer uses "syn" in Troilus and Criseyde more often than most writers, and comparison of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to works like Cursor mundi and Piers Plowman and to writers like Robert Manning of Brunne and Hoccleve shows that scribes were indifferent to the form they used. Chaucer is then responsible for the increased use of "syn" in Troilus and Criseyde, suggesting that he intended to use the pun and to create ambiguity and double meanings. Chaucer uses the same pun in the "Legend of Phyllis," the Miller's and Man of Law's Tales, and the Wife of Bath's Prologue and tale. In Troilus and Criseyde, however, this pun is more frequent, and Chaucer employs it to create double reality and Christian irony.
Soucy, A. Francis. "Gawain's Fault: 'Angardez pryde.'" 13 (1978): 166-76.
In the course of his interaction with Bercilak, Gawain realizes and confesses pride. In the temptation scenes, Lady Bercilak plays on Gawain's concern for his reputation. When Gawain fails to give the girdle to Bercilak, he fails a test of his word, not a test of courtesy. Throughout, Gawain takes great pains to maintain a reputation as a courageous and honest knight. Gawain continues to wear the girdle as a reminder of his sin of pride and of his humanity.
Stanbury, Sarah. "Space and Visual Hermeneutics in the Gawain-Poet." 21 (1987): 476-89.
In Pearl, Patience, Purity, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poet uses circumscribed space. The characters move through these spaces, discovering hints to spiritual sight and recognizing how the spiritual encloses the physical. The poet employs the frequently used image of the edifice as spiritual work, and thresholds as transition points. Saints come to represent thresholds or points of change and mediate between man and God. Physical enclosures denote the limits of knowledge.
Tkacz, Catherine Brown. "Samson and Arcite in the Knight's Tale." 25 (1990): 127-37.
In the Knight's Tale Arcite promises Mars to cut his hair, and Arcite's vow recalls that of Samson. Chaucer borrows from that tradition and alters the material in the Teseida to create this parallel. Roman de la Rose, a homily in MS Harl.45, fol. 101b, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Kyng Alisaunder, the Fall of Princes, the Letter of Cupid, Valerius ad Ruffinum, Vox clamantis, Confessio amantis, and Somme le Roi all speak of Samson and Solomon as fools for love. Chaucer also borrows from a variant on this tradition that perceives Samson as a suicidal lover. Arcite's vow is the direct opposite of Samson's and draws attention to Arcite's self-betrayal.
Weiss, Victoria L. "Gawain's First Failure: The Beheading Scene in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 10 (1976): 361-66.
The Green Knight words his challenge in such a way that Gawain has the responsibility of determining the kind of blow the Green Knight will receive. Gawain need not chop off the Green Knight's head, since doing so indicates that Gawain cares little for human life when his knightly courage has been challenged. When Bercilak confronts Gawain regarding the green girdle, Gawain realizes his pride and his earlier disregard for human life.
Weiss, Victoria L. "The Medieval Knighting Ceremony in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 12 (1978): 183-89.
The three strokes Gawain receives from the Green Knight resemble the blows of the medieval knighting ceremony, which also includes the girdle as a dubbing gift. Gawain's experience with the Green Knight emphasizes the human limitations inherent in knighthood.