From the north-west midlands, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight dates from the second half of the 14th century. Gawain, a knight in Arthur's court, takes up the challenge of the Green Knight, and cuts off his head. The Knight informs Gawain he will have his revenge.Journeying to the Knight's abode to receive his lot Gawain takes thehospitality of a Lord, and endures the advances of his wife. The Lord is the Green Knight and, when the time comes, merely nicks Gawain's neck for his infidelity and dishonour. Is Gawain a failure, or a hero?
Dr J. J. Anderson is Honorary Research Fellow, formerly Senior Lecturer in English language, in the University of Manchester. His interests and publications are chiefly in the fields of medieval literature and early English drama.