Feast Traditions in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

English: Temptation of Sir Gawain by Lady Berc...

English: Temptation of Sir Gawain by Lady Bercilak: Cotton Nero A. x, f. 129 http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/english/fajardo/teaching/eng340/gawain.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, feast traditions seem to be just as important as they were in Beowulf. King Arthur, the most important figure in the room, is introduced first: “Erect stood the strong King” (25). The rest of the people at the table are introduced, according to importance, “Good Gawain was placed at Guinevere’s side, both the King’s sister’s sons, staunchest of knights…” (25). Furthermore, “When they’d dressed for dinner they took their places, the nobler the higher, in proper degree” (25). People at the celebration are introduced in hierarchical order, according to their position in society. As a result, feast traditions act to reinforce social customs that exist throughout society.

What is also interesting about the descriptions of the feast is the lack of descriptions of the individuals and the focus on the descriptions of food and customs. “The first course came in with such cracking of trumpets” (25). “Then delicacies and dainties were delivered to the guests, fresh food in foison, such freight of full dishes” (25).

Anonymous.  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Translated by Bernard O’DonoghueNew York: Penguin Books, 2007.

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