- Gawain and Goliath: Davidic Parallels and the Problem of Penance in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA
- Volume 44, 2013
- pp. 121-155
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Noting allusions to and subtle parallels with the David story in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this article argues for a recovery of a reading of the poem as a morally serious work, in so doing inviting productive comparisons to the Gawain-Poet’s handling of biblical material in his other works, particularly Cleanness, which also reveal the Poet’s assumptions concerning sin’s corporate and enduring, even generational nature: a problem as much narrative as theological, it both occludes clarity of vision and obstructs resolution. Like the prophet Nathan, who called David to repentance, and the Green Knight himself, who indicts the members of Arthur’s court for their failure to live up to their self-professed ideals, the Poet appears critical of his courtly audience for their moral obtuseness.