Sir Gawain’s Classic Hero’s Jo

December 24, 2016 General Studies

Archetypes are similarities found in people of different cultures. The similarities come from memories stored in the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind stores memories that we cannot access put they can influence us. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist and creator of the archetype, uses archetypes to model the classic hero’s journey. He believes that the journeys of all heroes show certain similarities. Jung said that all men must do certain things to become a hero. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as translated by Burton Raffel, is a good example of a hero’s journey that follows the path laid out by Carl Jung..

A hero’s journey starts with a call to adventure. This call can either be specific or serendipitous. A specific call has the hero recruited by a person, thing, or supernatural being. If the call is serendipitous the hero falls into the journey. A man must accept the call to adventure to become a hero. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the call is specific. “A ghastly knight sprang through the door” (136) and challenged King Arthur’s court to the a contest. He was described as a green man that was part ogre with a green horse and a green axe trimmed in gold. The ghastly Green Knight asked that any man brave enough step up and hit him with his axe. He also asked that the brave knight would take a blow himself in “a year and a day” (297-298). Sir Gawain accepted the challenge. Sir Gawain swung the axe and chopped the head off the Green Knight. “The body spurted blood, gleaming red on green skin” (429-430) while his head rolled across the floor. The Green Knight stooped down to pick up his head and told Sir Gawain, “Find the green chapel, come to take what you’ve given” (451-451). Sir Gawain knows that he will not live after being dealt such a blow but will do as he promised and seek out the green chapel. After some time Sir Gawain sets out and begins to look for the green chapel where the Green Knight said he would be.

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