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QOTD # 23 The story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has

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QOTD # 23 The story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2016, 07:27
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37% (04:52) correct 62% (04:05) wrong based on 8 sessions
The story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has its foundation in Arthurian legend as formulated and passed down by the pagan oral tradition. In its written form, however, the tale bears the marks of Christian influence—it contains numerous scriptural and doctrinal references to Christianity. Since the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is unknown,it is difficult to determine with any certainty the extent to which he was responsible for the incorporation of Christianity into the legend. For all we know, the story may have been “Christianized” in its oral form long before the poet set it into writing. The poet himself supports this possibility by writing in the opening lines that he will tell “anew” the tale “as I heard it in hall.” If this is the case (and even if it is not), it is distinctly possible that the heroes of the Arthurian tradition represent in the written form a pagan interpretation of Christian ideals, rather than an externally imposed Christianization of pagan codes of behavior.

While it could certainly be argued that the poet portrays Sir Gawain as a good Christian hero in an attempt to infuse the story with Christian values, the critical tone of the narrative seems to suggest a different conclusion—that by critically editorializing the paganized form of Christianity embodied by Sir Gawain, the poet is trying to correct what he sees to be the flaws of that form. From the perspective of this conclusion it is clear that the poet only “Christianizes” the traditional legend to the extent that he criticizes the pagan interpretation of Christianity that is inherent in the behavior of its heroes.

Those who would argue that the poet intends to portray Sir Gawain as the perfect
Christian hero would point to the descriptions of his chivalric qualities. The poet does indeed describe Gawain’s Christian virtues generously; he even makes a special aside early in the second fit to describe the significance of the pentangle embossed on Gawain’s shield, and to explain “why the pentangle is proper to that peerless prince.” The author then delves into a lengthy enumeration of Gawain’s Christian virtues. What is more, the fact that he uses the pentangle—a pagan symbol—to do it would seem to suggest that the author does indeed intend to add a Christian interpretation to the pagan legend he is retelling. Taken in its larger context, however, this passage takes on a different significance. In further examination of the poet’s descriptions of Sir Gawain, it becomes apparent that the knight’s seemingly perfect Christian behavior is superficial. A contrast can be observed between his “Christian” words and actions and his decidedly un-Christian motives. One theory is that, by emphasizing this contrast, the poet intends to denounce the pagan “misunderstanding” of the Christian message.
Consider each of the answer choices separately and indicate all that apply.

Which of the following can be inferred about the pagan and Christian origins of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

  • As an orally-handed-down tale, it was pagan, but as a written tale, it was Christian.
  • Sir Gawain was a knight in King Arthur’s court.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains both Christian and pagan elements, although it is not clear that either perspective is dominant.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
III


Which of the following can be inferred from the author’s interpretation of the Christian aspects of the poem presented in the third paragraph?

(A) Pagans and Christians differ in their interpretations of the Christian symbolism in the story.
(B) A pagan cannot have motives that are acceptable from a Christian perspective.
(C) A pagan story cannot be used to convey a Christian attitude.
(D) Christianity was absent in Arthurian stories before such stories were written down.
(E) Being a good Christian involves having both the right actions and the right motives.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
E


Which of the following, if true, would most undermine the “theory” mentioned in the final sentence of the passage?

(A) Sir Gawain is portrayed as disingenuous in his exercise of “Christian virtues.”
(B) Another character in the story is also associated with pagan symbols and is praised straightforwardly for her Christian virtues.
(C) Sir Gawain, in the story, prays to God to help him in battle.
(D) Another character in the story is associated with pagan symbols but is portrayed as having no Christian virtues whatsoever.
(E) A group of people in the story are portrayed as “barbarians” who are neither pagan nor Christian.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
B


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Re: QOTD # 23 The story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has [#permalink] New post 03 Jul 2018, 06:13
How for the question Q2 answer is not A ?
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Re: QOTD # 23 The story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2018, 09:40
ishank4 wrote:
How for the question Q2 answer is not A ?


I second that. I came up with A as well. Also, can someone return and define the paragraphs? I don't know where the paragraphs begin or end.
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Re: QOTD # 23 The story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2018, 11:25
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Q2

Quote:
Choices (C) and (D) are directly contradicted by the passage. Nothing suggests that the religious outlook of the interpreter influenced the interpretation of the story, so choice (A) is also wrong. Choice (B) is too strong: the passage only states that, according to its interpretation of the story, Gawain’s motives are not Christian. But this doesn’t show that they could not be. Choice (E), on the other hand, follows directly from the claim that while Gawain’s actions and words are Christian, his motives are not.


This is the OE. Ask for further assistance.

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Re: QOTD # 23 The story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has   [#permalink] 04 Jul 2018, 11:25
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