Exam Question

The relationship between humankind and nature is a complicated one. Comment one of the ways man and nature respond to the other. Do the readings we covered support a co-dependent relationship between man and nature? Does one reign over the other? Or are we all equal in the universe despite mankind’s attempts to rule over nature? Pick one or two of the readings from this semester as evidence to support your claims.

Paper Proposal: Symbolic Color in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Laurel McCormick


Symbolic Color in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The colors green and gold in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are assigned to The Green Knight and Sir Gawain as a physical representation of their inner qualities. These colors are also representative of the wildness of nature and inner morality. The Green Knight has many things that link him to the free natural world; his greenness, his green horse, the holly branch, the axe and the Green Chapel. These objects reflect his wildness of character. The Green Knight is continually outspoken, and somewhat unrefined. Nature, magic and unpredictability are closely intertwined when describing the character of the Green Knight. Sir Gawain on the other hand, is closely associated with the color gold. He is repeatedly mentioned adorning himself with gold trinkets and his armor is even tinged with the color. Gold typically represents purity and wealth. This association is maintained throughout Gawain’s journey. Gawain is even described as having a heart of gold. Sir Gawain embodies the courtly and spiritual morality that every hero should possess because he remains true to his mission throughout the story. His strengths are tested by the Green Knight by using his wild ways to try and uncover a flaw in the hero. The two opposing characters can also be seen in each other. Sir Gawain wears a green girdle at the end of the story and the reader sees an upset to his normally calm character. The Green Knight’s armor is laced with gold and Lord Bertilak behaves with the utmost knightly hospitability when Sir Gawain is staying with him.

The Tain

Cuchulainn is a prominent figure in this section of the Tain. From birth he seems to exhibit supernatural abilities, remeniscent of Greek/Roman mythology. Does the story support a reading where he is cast as a hero or god? Maybe he fulfills a different role entirely. Give examples from the text to support or negate your stance.

The Tain

Several times the passage mentions birds, horses and cattle, however they are in odd situations. The flock of birds in ‘How Cuchulainn was begotten’ were seen to destroy the human character’s land and were hooked together by silver chains. The foals were supposed to raise young Cuchulainn and herds of cattle are referenced often through out all of the sections. Based upon these references, how are animals viewed through the eyes of the Tain characters? Do they treat them with respect or as a force to be dominated? Feel free to bring in your own textual references other than the ones mentioned above.