Romance Written in the Fourteenth Century.
An important fourteenth century romance is Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. Sir Gawain can be found in a collection of four different poems. The first poem's title is "Pearl", and since the author is anonymous those refer to him as the "Pearl Poet". A romance is a verse narrative which adventures a brave knight or other hero who must overcome danger for love of a noble lady or a high ideal. Violation of the code of chivalry will result in the loss of honor to the knight. Romances usually involve strict adherence to the code of chivalry. Chivalry is loyalty toward church and king, and reverence toward women. Three of the seven elements that make up a romance are present in this essay. A romance consists of elements to allow a moral lesson(s) to be learned by the reader. In this medieval romance Sir Gawain learns valuable lessons that allow him to become a better knight through a quest, a series of tests, and important roles played by female figures.
The first element of a romance is the quest that consists of three parts. In the first part of the quest a near perfect hero takes a dangerous journey. On his journey away from Camelot, Gawain commits a sin by betraying his host, Lord Bersilak. Gawain travels through wilderness, woods, swamps, and treacherous weather to challenge the Green Knight, enduring loneliness, beasts, and wild animals. The Pearl Poet writes, "Many a cliff he climbed o"er in countries unknown, / far fled from his friends without fellowship he rode" (Sir Gawain 31). Gawain searches through his mind and soul to find strength and courage in order to complete his quest. A second part of the quest is a central test or ordeal. Lord Bersilak, his wife the Lady, and Morgana Lafaye challenge Gawains's code of chivalry with a series of trials at the Green Knight's castle. Morgana Lafaye challenges Gawain to prove the men of the round table the worthy knights King Arthur proclaims his knights to be.