Post by shymaid on May 5, 2019 18:52:38 GMT
Motif of The Green Knight
I came across a figure from Arthurian legends that peeked my interest: The Green Knight. Which of course reminds me of Renly and his green armor. So I took a deeper look and thought it was interesting.
Here is a good site with information on this story, and here is the summary of the story.
During a New Year's Eve feast at King Arthur's court, a strange figure, referred to only as the Green Knight, pays the court an unexpected visit. He challenges the group's leader or any other brave representative to a game. The Green Knight says that he will allow whomever accepts the challenge to strike him with his own axe, on the condidtion that the challenger find him in exactly one year to receive a blow in return.
Stunned, Arthur hesitates to respond, but when the Green Knight mocks Arthur's silence, the king steps forward to take the challenge. As soon as Arthur grips the Green Knight's axe, Sir Gawain leaps up and asks to take the challenge himself. He takes hold of the axe and, in one deadly blow, cuts off the knight's head. To the amazement of the court, the now-headless Green Knight picks up his severed head. Before riding away, the head reiterates the terms of the pact, reminding the young Gawain to seek him in a year and a day at the Green Chapel. After the Green Knight leaves, the company goes back to its festival, but Gawain is uneasy.
Time passes, and autumn arrives. On the Day of All Saints, Gawain prepares to leave Camelot and find the Green Knight. He puts on his best armor, mounts his horse, Gringolet, and starts off toward North Wales, traveling through the wilderness in northwest Britain. Gawain encounters all sorts of beasts, suffers from hunger and cold, and grows more desperate ast the days pass. On Chirstmas Day, he prays to find a place to hear Mass, then looks up to see a castle shimmering in the distance. The lord of the castle welcomes Gawain warmly, introducing him to his lady and to the old woman who sites beside her. For sport, the host (whose name is later revealed to be Bertilak) strikes a deal with Gawain: the host will go hunting with his men every day, and when he returns in the evening, he will exchange his winnings for anything Gawain has managed to acquire by staying behind at the castle. Gawain happily agrees to the pact, and goes to bed.
The first day, the lord hunts a herd of does, while Gawain sleeps late in his bedchambers. On the morning of the first day, the lord's wife sneaks into Gawain's chambers and attempts to seduce him. Gawain puts her off, but before she leaves she steals one kiss from him. That evening, when the host gives Gawain the venison he has captured, Gawain kisses him, since he has won one kiss from the lady. The second day, the lord hunts a wild boar. The lady again enters Gawain's chambers, and this time she kisses Gawain twice. That evening Gawain gives the host the two kisses in exchange for the boar's head.
The third day, the lord hunts a fox, and the lady kisses Gawain three times. She also asks him for a love tokem, sucj as a ring or a glove. Gawain refuses to give her anything and refuses to take anything from her, until the lady mentions her girdle. The green silk girdle she wears around her waist is no ordinary piece of cloth, the lady claims, but possesses the magical ability to protect the person who wears it from death. Inttrigued, Gawain accepts the cloth, but when it comes time to exchange his winnings with the host, Gawain gives the three kisses but does not mention the lady's green girdle. The host gives Gawain the fox skin he won that day, and they all go to bed happy, but weighed down with the fact that Gawain must leave for the Green Chapel the following mornig to find the Green Knight.
New Year's Day arrives, and Gawain dons his armor, including the girdle, then sets off with Gringolet to seek the Green Knight. A guide accompanies him out of the estate grounds. When they reach the border or the forest, the guide promises not to tell anyone if Gawain decides to give up the quest. He hears the whirring of a grindstone, confirming his suspicion that this strange cavern is in fact the Green Chapel. Gawain calls out, and the Green Knight emerges to greet him. Intent on fulfilling the terms of the contract, Gawain presents his neck to the Green Knight, who proceeds to feign two blows. On the third feint, the Green Knight nicks Gawain's neck, barely drawing blood. Angered, Gawain shouts that their contract has been met, but the Green Knight merely laughs.
The Green Knight reveals his name, Bertilak, and explains that he is the lord of the castle where Gawain recently stayed. Because Gawain did not honestly exchange all of his winnings on the third day, Bertilac drew blood on his third blow. Nevertheless, Gawain has proven himself a worthy knight, without equal in all the land. When Gawain questions Bertilak further, Bertilak explains that the old woman in the castle is really Morgan le Faye, Gawian's aunt and King Arthur's half sister. She sent the Green Knight on his original erand and used her magic to change Bertilak’s appearance. Relieved to be alive but extremely guilty about his sinful failure to tell the whole truth, Gawain wears the girdle on his arm as a reminder if his own faliure. He returns to Arthur's court, where all the knights join Gawain, wearing girdles in their arms to show their support.
The part I found interesting is the three days he spent at the castle Hautedesert, and the deal he made with its lord, Bercilak. Is there something here which can link the castle lord to Renly?
Well, the first we see is Bercilak introducing Gawain to his wife, where she is sent to challenge Gawain's chastity. This can be parallell to Renly wanting to introduce Margaery to Robert, in hopes of the latter putting Cersei aside. So we do get the point of fidelity in both.
The wife tries three times to seduce Gawain, and Margaery is put forth three times to kings: first to Robert (though they don't get time to do this), then she marries Renly himself instead, and after he is dead she is married to Joff. Now, Margaery is finally married (so far) to Tommen, so that makes four; so perhaps we should exclude the planned introduction to Robert as it didn't happen.
That first day, Bercilak sets out after a doe. This mirrors Robert setting out after the white heart in the Kingswood, though in an inverse. Renly came along on this hunt, so our Green Knight is there. In another inverse, all the kingly hunting party finds of the heart is some skin and bones. The reason for Robert's hunt is the fight between Ned and the Lannisters, which he doesn't want to deal with. In short he flees, when he would be better needed at hand in the city. Cowardice.
The second day, Bercilak goes after a wild boar. When the heart is killed, Robert desides to hunt for boar as well. He does find and kill the boar, but is given a mortal wound by the boar first. Some of the hunting party turned back for King's Landing after the heart was killed, but Renly stayed with his brother till the end. We don't really get a reason for why Robert stayed in the woods for this second part of the hunt, but it could be a combination of not wanting to face the probems in his castle yet, and pride in his ability to take down a boar. His skill in this is made a deal of. Cowardice and pride.
Thirdly, Bercilak gives Gawain a fox skin. But... do we have a fox in here as well? To my mind we have two options here.
If we first look at Game, Renly also has important interaction with Ned after the huntingpartys return to the Red Keep. And here we get another tie to the Arthurian legend, as Renly “introduced” Ned to Margaery with the miniature. The wife of Bercilak, also gave Gawain her girdle, telling the knight that it held magical powers that would keep him alive when he faced the Green Knight. Gawian held this secret and did not share it as he feared the meeting to come. In litterature, when worn by a man a girdle represents his power, as it was often used to hold his weapons and gave more mobility when fighting compared to other clothing. Examples are Odysseus and Thor, who both uses girdles which gives them extra strength. When Ned is leaving the Red Keep, Renly offers his swords to Ned, so that they can take control of the castle. Imediately. Ned, however, turns him down as he sees that as distasteful and he does not fear Cersei. Gawain is untouched by the first two blows toward his head, but is nicked in the neck by the third due to him keeping the girdle secret. Ned is taken down by Cersei and looses his head entirely (though not by Cersei's command). So where does the fox come into this picture? Well, earlier in this book Ned thinks of Tywiin as as much a fox as a lion. And the power behind Cersei is Tywin. I'd say we see here hubris, with underestimating the danger.
The other option is through House Florent, with their sigil fox. Selyse Florent is married to Stannis, and the two brothers ends up on differing sides after Robert dies. It ends when Renly is slain by Stannis' shade with a cut to his neck, while Renly is being helped into his green armor. However, this would fit better to another version of this story. There are versions where the Green Knight is actually killed, as Gawain removes the Green Knights cloak, which holds his power to resurect after he is beheaded, and so he dies. Here we get hubris from Renly's side, as he assumes he could be king just because he thinks he'd be best at it, ignoring every inheritance law in the realm.
There are a couple of other interesting tid bits from the Green Knight as well.
The main version of the story actually has the Green Knight, not in green armor, but with green skin and green clothes. Sounds familiar? It certainly sounds like the Green Men at the Isle of Faces! And one interpretation of this feature of the tale is: “With his alternate identity as Bertilak, the Green Knight can also be seen as a compromise between both humanity and the environment as opposed to Gawain's representation of human civilisation.” That sounds like quite a match to the Pact between the Firs Men and the CotF.
The second thing, which I suspect will interest Wraith a bit, is that the name of the castle where Gawain stays is named Hautedesert. Which translates into High Hermitage. Darkstar anyone? But I'm not sure how to fit him into this tale... if it is even possible. So far we have so little information on him. As these days my mind is on Darkstar being framed for Myrcella's attack, so I wonder if this could be a sign of this. Or is it the opposite? In any case, the same castle name is very interesting I think!