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Carnivalesque Features in Sir Gawain and the Green Kinght


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Carnivalesque features in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Games and Challenges
Whenever Carnival is mentioned, whether it is on Mikhail Bakhtin’s work: Rabelais and his world on any other document, it is said that it was considered to be a second life for people of the Middle Ages. It was an opportunity for them to laugh, eat a lot, enjoy themselves and escape from the rigidity of the feudal system. There are many features that are characteristic of the carnival, such as big banquets of food, inversion of social classes, humourists, lots of singing and laughing. Throughout this essay, I will focus on one of the features that called my attention when I first read one of the better-known Arthurian stories: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the games. I will explore some of the challenges proposed throughout this romance. Whenever we play a game, whichever it is, we intend to win or to get something out of it. However, I will demonstrate that in this period and by playing tournaments and challenging themselves, people were not exactly looking forward to defeating their opponent or win money, but what they wanted the most was to forget about their original role in society, act as equals, feel liberated and mainly have fun.

Let us begin with one of the first proposal for amusement initiated by King Arthur on his court: ‘His noble announcement that he never would eat On such a fair feast-day till informed in full Of some unusual adventure, as yet untold, Of some momentous marvel that he might believe (…)’ (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Stanza 5: Line 91)
Here, we can clearly see that King Arthur was looking to be entertained before eating his food. Besides, there is no challenge here, only people looking to have a pleasant time. A little bit after this, a huge spirit (later known as the Green Knight) makes his appearance and offers to play a game to

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