Sir Gaiwan and the green knight

Section/# The Indeterminate Ending of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Although Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has been analyzed by a host of literary critics for the better part of several hundred years, the fact remains that there exists a large amount of disagreement between individuals who read and analyze its contents. One of the prime examples concerning this level of disagreement is the fact that certain members of the literary community take the stance that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight represents a type of indeterminant ending with no clear meaning. Alternatively, those that espouse the alternative view state that the story’s ending has a clear and determinate point which can clearly be understood within the context of the story itself and the greater themes presented therein. As a function of seeking to clarify this level of disagreement and discussion that exists within the field of literary analysis, this brief essay will work to answer whether or not the ending of the story is in and of itself indeterminant. In this way, the reader and/or analyst can hope to gain valuable insights into how the ending itself factors into a greater understanding of the key concepts which are presented within the story. Furthermore, such an analysis will clearly bring elements of the play’s action and themes into line with a more full and complete understanding of how the ending either compounds these actions and themes or has little to no bearing on their development.
Though the ending of the play is non-uniform, especially for the time in which the story itself was penned, it is nonetheless determinate. As the reader/analyst can note, the ending of the story presents the fact that although the understanding of the ending was lost on the hero himself, Gawain, it nonetheless presented the fact that a true moral and understanding of the action and themes which are presented within the play can be inferred. Whereas Gawain feels a sense of embarrassment and lack of honor and heroism that the Green Sash displays, Arthur’s knights view the symbolism of the Green Sash as comical due to the fact that the true meaning is lost on Gawain but understood by the Knights of the Round Table. Although the story itself did not work out under the circumstances that Gawain himself would have otherwise wished for, the ending and the overall moral which is impressed upon the reader is nonetheless sound (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 151).
In short, this level of non-uniformity that is expressed within the ending of the play is a construct whereby the author is able to provide an additional level of analysis and discussion into the basic tenets of honor and what typically defines a knight. By bending these constructs in ways that make it difficult for Gawain to comprehend the meaning within the broader definition of honor, knighthood, and virtue, the reader and/or analyst is able to see the varying shades of nuance that exists even within the simplistic interpretation of chivalry that existed within the themes and action of the play. In such a way, rather than the ending being indeterminate, the ending itself helps to engage the reader with the notion that Gawain’s misunderstanding is in and of itself a further development of the themes and actions that have taken place thus far. Likewise, by presenting the story in such a fashion, within the final lines of the play, the author is able to acquaint the reader with the never before alluded to fact that knighthood and chivalry themselves are more fluid concepts that have previously been discussed.
Work Cited
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight : a new verse translation. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.