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Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#2781. Lit circle guide for Sir Gawain, Part I

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Mon Jan 6 09:38:29 PST 2003 by Richard Bloom (
Central HS of Prince George's County Public Schools, Capitol Heights, Maryland
Materials Required: Gawain text, looseleaf, handout
Activity Time: 2 or 3 class periods to complete part I
Concepts Taught: vocabulary, theme, plot, characterization, intellectual history


I. Vocabulary (Word Master)

1. siegenounpersistent or serious military (or other) attack (line 1)

2. breachverbto break or rupture (2)

3. impeachverbto accuse or bring a charge against (4)

4. perfidynounfaithlessness; treachery (4)

5. wracknounwreckage; ruin (16)

6. derring-donoundaring (34)

7. comelyadjectivepleasant-looking (53)

8. bickerverbargue (68)

9. daisnounraised platform (75)

10. seemlyadjectiveattractive; handsome (83)

11. chivalrynounknightliness; gallantry; being distinguished (94)

12. suppliantnounone who asks humbly (96)

13. mirthnoungaity (106)

14. stoutadjectivesturdily constructed (107)

15. stalwart [STALL wert]adjectivestrong; unwavering (115)

16. guisenouncostume (151)

17. mantlenounsleeveless garment worn over other clothes; cloak (153)

18. embellishverbto decorate (155)

19. ermine [ER minn]nounweasel whose coat turns white in winter (155)

20. raiment [RAY ment]nounclothing [163]

21. pendantnounsomething suspended, as an ornament (168)

22. cunningadjectivecrafty; shrewd; industrious (188)

23. filamentnouna single thread or threadlike appendage (189)

24. appurtenancenounaccessory object; subordinate part (204)

25. swaggerverbto be arrogant, or to walk that way (227)

26. charyadjectivecautious; wary (241)

27. hostelrynounan inn or hotel (253)

28. gisarme [jee ZARM]nounmedieval foot-soldier weapon; a blade mounted on a staff (288)

29. assay [a SAY]verbevaluate (291)

30. guerdon[GER din)reward (295)

31. sansadjectivewithout (295)

32. vauntingadjectiveproud or boasting (312)

33. aghastadjectiveshocked or frightened (325)

34. haftnounthe handle of a tool or weapon (329)

35. undauntedadjectiveemboldened; not discouraged (335)

36. melee [MAY lay]nouna confused struggle among a group of people (342)

37. abashverbembarrass; destroy self-confidence of someone (376)

38. adjureverburge (379)

39. girdverbto surround or prepare for attack (417)

40. quailverbto recoil in dread or terror (442)

41. recreant [REK kree ent]adjectivecowardly; a deserter (456)

42. roisterousadjectivecarousing; loud reveling (457)

43. hewverbto cut (477)

II. Discussion questions (Discussion Director)

1. For what purpose would the Gawain poet place King Arthur in line with the founders of the ancient civilizations?

2. Why is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight said to be written in alliterative verse?

3. While describing the knights and ladies of Arthurs court, the Gawain poet alludes to some of the values of his audience? What adjectives, used to describe these scenes of revelry, correspond to these values?

4. How does the poet describe King Arthur? Does he remind you of anyone you know or have known?

5. What does Arthur challenge the Green Knight to do? Why, do you think?

6. What is the Knights reaction to this challenge?

7. How does Sir Gawain rationalize his request of Arthur that he be the one to accept the Knights challenge? What qualities does he thus show?

8. What bargain does the Green Knight strike with Gawain?

9. Describe the reaction of the gathered crowd to the spectacle that enfolds before Arthur.

III. Characterizations (Character Captain)

1. King Arthur

2. The Green Knight

3. Sir Gawain

IV. Draw a picture (Illustrator)

V. Significant passages (Passage master)


VI. Cultural connections (Connector)
See pages 228-233 in World History and pp. 180-184 in Humanities.