Thursday, May 21, 2015

Film Day: Storyboarding


  • How to storyboard
  • Reading: "Lamb to the Slaughter"
  • Viewing: Hitchcock's "Lamb to the Slaughter"
  • Film Project

Monday, May 18, 2015

Film Day III: Transitions and Lighting


  • Review of 10 Minutes
  • Notes on Transitions and Lighting
  • Viewing: Finite 
  • Viewing: Sniffer


  • Continue working on projects

Friday, May 15, 2015

Film Day II: Camera Angles and Movement


  • Review of framing
  • Notes on camera angles
  • Viewing: Snap
  • Notes on camera movement


  • Finish viewing and log of 10 Minutes

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Film Day I: Shots and Framing


  • Sample Viewing and Noticings in Film Log: The Lunch Date
  • Group discussion
  • Notes on shots and framing
  • Shots and framing analysis:
  • Find a sample video of a work that uses shot length or type in order to add to its meaning.  Add notes about it to your film log with the titles of each film clearly labeled.

Monday, May 4, 2015

AP Exam Review

Keep studying based on the information that we reviewed in class.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Figurative Language Review


  • Figurative Language white board review


  • 3 book reviews will be due on Monday (Please asks teachers about the books that you want to use in advance)
  • Continue to study for the AP exam
  • JE questions due after your AP exams

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Woman Questions and JE


  • Finish review of posters
  • Reading Gilbert and Gubar selection from The Madwoman in the Attic
  • Finish reading selection
  • Be prepared to hand in all JE questions by the end of your AP exams

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Journey of Jane

Ms. Hoffmann
AP/Honors Literature
The Journey of Jane
*To analyze why and how individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text
*To read closely to draw inferences
*To prepare for and to participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations

Last class we reviewed the concept of Bildungsroman, which refers to a novel of self-development.  Bildungsroman consists of four general characteristics (from handout):
1.      It is a story of a single individual’s growth and development within the context of a defined social order.
2.      The hero beings the journey because of loss or discontentment.
3.      Throughout the long process of maturity there are repeated clashes between the hero’s needs/desires and the views/judgments of a rigid society.
4.      By the end the hero begins to internalize social values.  At this point, the hero also tends to assess himself and his new place in society. 
Jane Eyre consists of five distinct sections, which can be read as building a bildungsroman.  Given the extensive Biblical and spiritual allusions throughout the text, the novel more specifically might be considered a novel of spiritual self-development. 

Analysis of Jane as (Religious) Bildungsroman Directions:
·         With a partner, review your assigned portion of the text.  You may skim and/or refer back to your reading questions.
·         Get a chart paper and some markers.  Divide one side into four squares.
o   Square One: Draw a timeline for this chapter.  Choose no less than five key events to incorporate.
o   Square Two: Answer the following questions:
§  What brings Jane to this place?  Was it loss or discontent?
§  What new conflicts does Jane experience as she clashes with the established social order here?
o   Square Three: Draw a symbolic representation of Jane given what she goes through and/or the ways in which she grows in your section (include labels). 
o   Square Four: Write a paragraph that addresses the following (you may need to continue onto the back of your chart):
§  How has Jane changed through her experiences within this section?  Does she have a new place in society?  What is it?  Does she have a new relationship with religion/spirituality?  What is it?
Grading Checklist:
·         Timeline                                                                                                              _______/5 
o   Consists of 5+ major events
o   Consists of events relevant to section
o   Is detailed enough to understand
·         Short Answers                                                                                                    _______/5
o   Address all four questions
o   Are relevant to section
o   Are supported by specific examples and/or plot details
·         Symbolic Drawing                                                                                             _______/5
o   Seems to represent interpretation of Jane from section
o   Contains descriptive labels
·         Long Paragraph Answer                                                                                     _______/10
o   Addresses all questions
o   Provides more than yes/no answers
o   Supports answers with more specific textual evidence relevant to length
·         Presentation                                                                                                        _______/5 
o   Clearly presents group’s opinions on Jane Eyre as bildungsroman
o   Speaks clearly at a reasonable pace
o   Makes eye contact with the audience
o   Addresses audience questions

Thursday, April 23, 2015



  • Freewrite: 
    • How is PP an allegory?  Bildungsroman?
    • Overall, how is this section an example of Bildungsroman?
      • What does Jane learn about herself? (versus her state purpose)
      • How does she learn it?
      • What message does this section convey?  (About religion?  About Jane's perception of it?)
      • You may wish to think of similarities with PP
  • Finish reading for tomorrow
  • Final Othello essays due next Tuesday

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Catch-all Day


  • Victorian Pageant Presentations
  • Bell Work Sign-Ups
  • Practice AP Questions: Frankenstein
  • Read chapters 33 + 34 in Frankenstein
  • The practice exam will be Sunday starting at 8AM sharp

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Byronic Hero


  • What is a Byronic hero?
  • Review: Myth of Prometheus
  • Reading "Prometheus" and analysis of Prometheus as a Byronic hero
  • Byronic heroes in JE?
  • Read next two chapters
  • Continue working on pageant materials
  • Make sure your asylum questions are answered for tomorrow

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Madwoman in the Attic

-Bell Work (effluvia, perfidious)

  • With what are asylums associated?
  • How are patients viewed by society (think of epithets used to describe them)?
  • How are asylums depicted in movies?
-Victorian Asylums Overview

-Read 27 + 28 for tomorrow
-AP MC Corrections due Friday
-Vocab Quiz Friday
-Pageant materials due Friday

Friday, April 3, 2015

"The Angel in the House"


  • Vocab Quiz
  • "The Angel in the House"
  • Read chapters 24-26
  • Start looking over the Victorian pageant assignment.  It will be due next Friday along with your MC corrections.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Miss. Victorian

"There she is.  Miss. Am--er, Victorian."  You are now part of a pageant team for a contestant hoping to win the crown of Miss Ideal Victorian Woman.  Your task is to prepare a contestant (create a character) to win the crown.  You will be choosing attire for the different portions of the competition and writing responses for possible interview questions (see pageant agenda). that are appropriate for the Victorian Era (based on your homework and class readings as well as some additional research).

Side note: Guys, if you'd rather research and create an ideal Victorian man, you may.  It may involve a bit more research on your part, though, as the class readings will not be as fully relevant.

The Product: 
You will be creating a print out of your characters' fashions along with a description that explains why she deserves to be Miss. Victorian.  At some point in this explanation, you should quote what her answer would be for a one-minute interview question.  If you Google "common pageant questions," you should find plenty of ideas for what they might respond to.  Your explanation should be approximately a page long--if it's much less you probably aren't discussing each of your fashion choices for your contestant.  In addition to the fashions, you may wish to include your contestant's mannerisms that make them most proper.  Beyond your description, should include a Works Cited of resources you used on the back of your print out.  (You will be presenting these, so it is important that they are clean looking.)  I provided a list of sources for you to start off with, but part of this project is going to entail you deciding what sources are most credible and useful for you to utilize while balancing that need with a time limit.  (I would suggest you use Wikipedia as a starting point.)

Pageant Agenda:
-Casual Wear
-Formal Wear
-Final Thoughts (Interviews)

Starter Sources: 
-Victorian Fashion:
-1840s Fashion:
-Ladies Emporium:
-History of the Bathing Suit:
-Links to Etiquette and Clothing for Different Occasions:
-What Victorian Women Did:

Godey's II


  • Review answers in Godey's
  • Reading: "The Ideal Victorian Woman"

  • To what extent is Jane an ideal Victorian woman?
  • Read 20-23 w/ questions
  • Vocab Quiz tomorrow
  • MC corrections due before break

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Interlude: "The Story of an Hour"


  • Group Reading
  • Discussion Questions
  • Read chapters 18-20
  • MC Corrections due prior to break

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Godey's Lady's Book v. 40-41 1850

Godey's Lady's Book March 1850


Victorian Woman Hood

Copy the following questions into a Google Document.  Answer them and share with me before going on to your Ideal Victorian Woman Word Cloud.  

  • What generalizations can you make about Victorian women based on skimming through Godey's?
  • What does your group's section of "The Work Table" feature?  What does it suggest about middle-class women's perception of work?  
  • Read Goethe's "The Sphere of Women."  
    • How does Goethe define the role of women?
    • How does he see the woman's role as having advantages over that of man?
    • On what is woman dependent?
    • How does the image complement the text?
You are done!  Share your document with me!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gothic Conventions in JE


  • Gothic Conventions Presentation
  • Gothic Conventions h/o:
  • Looking for Gothic Conventions in "House on Haunted Hill"

  • Read chapters 16 + 17 w/ Questions

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reflections of Charlotte in Jane (for Thursday)

-Bell Work
-Notes on Charlotte Bronte + JE
-Skim:  Focus on the correspondence between Jane and Robert Southey.
-Journal: To what extent does Jane reflect upon Charlotte's life?  Use evidence from the powerpoint and the website in comparison with what you see in JE.

-Read chapters 11-15 (yes, you have to complete the reading questions) for Monday
-Vocab quiz Friday
-Romantic poems due Monday
-All journal entries from these past few classes due on Monday
-Othello essay drafts due day prior to conferences
-Multiple Choice corrections due the day before break

Victorian Childhood

-Bell Work
-Logistics Discussion
-The Children Who Built Victorian England:
-Work, Terrible Work:

Journal: Using three textual examples, explain how Jane's life (remember Jane effectively is an orphan) compares to that of other Victorian children.

*Read through chapter 10 w/ reading questions
*Complete your journal -->I won't be able to collect these until Monday

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Continued Intro to the Victorian Era


  • Complete Victorian Notes
    • Analysis: "White Man's Burden"
    • Analysis: "Astarte Syriaca"
  • The Women Question: Be prepared to look at interactive tomorrow


  • Read JE Ch 1-5 w/ questions
  • Vocab Quiz Friday
  • Othello paper (varying deadlines)
  • Multiple Choice corrections due before break

Monday, March 23, 2015

Romantics Wrap and Victorian Intro


  • Romantics check-in quiz
  • Victorian Era Notes
    • "Poverty Knock"

  • SIFT due tomorrow
  • Read 1-5 and answer questions for Wednesday
  • Vocab Quiz Friday
  • Othello papers (varying dates)
  • MC test corrections due before break

Women's Rights Evolution in Britain

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spontaneous Overflows


  • Another look at "Ode"
  • Comparing Ekphrastic Responses to The Fall of Icarus
  • Workshop
  • Vocab quiz tomorrow
  • SIFT due Tuesday
  • Continue working on Othello papers
  • Romantic poems due 3/30
  • AP corrections due the day prior to break

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blake Wrap-Up and Intro to Keats


  • Practice Blake paragraphs on companion poems
  • Keats background
  • What is Ekphrasis + reading
  • "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
  • Be prepared to discuss the Ode
  • Finish paragraphs if you haven't to hand in
  • SIFT due next Tues
  • Work on papers
  • Corrections due the last day before break

Tuesday, March 17, 2015



  • "The Tyger" v. "The Lamb" handout
  • Blake's bg
  • Discussion of Blake
  • Blake reading handout
  • SIFT due next Tuesday
  • Continue working on your papers and AP test corrections

SIFT Analysis

Donald Barthelme's "The Baby"

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wordsworth Discussion


  • Change sign up dates
  • Why read Wordsworth handout?
  • Discussion of Wordsworth packet


  • Start AP corrections
  • Continue working on essay
  • Stay tuned for SIFT analysis link

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Review Day


  • Vocab Quiz
  • AP Practice (ch 4) reading
  • Discussion of Romantics reading

  • Wordsworth packet
    • Read the starred poems
    • Answer questions in companion packet
  • Work on Othello assignment

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Intro to Romantics


  • Othello essay directions and workshop sign-ups
  • Notes on Romantics
  • Read and mark up "Frost at Midnight" and "I Wandered..."  for Thursday's class
  • Vocab quiz Thursday

Friday, March 6, 2015

AP MC Basic Strategies


  • Vocab Quiz
  • Discussion of resources
  • Discussion of Cracking the AP...test strategies
    • Have a plan
    • Manage time
    • POE
  • Practice selections: Donne "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" and Austen Pride and Prejudice
  • Make sure you've finished Othello for Monday

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

AP Sample Prose Essay


  • Hand back past AP essay grades
  • Sample prose essay
  • Sample grading
  • Finish sample grading
  • Finish Othello for Friday

Othello as a Moor (Tuesday w/ sub)


  • Reading of Leo Africanus
  • What is the tone?  Support.
  • How is Othello described in the tragedy?  Where?  By whom?  How?
  • Do the two mesh?
  • Finish what not finished in class
  • Read act 5

Language and Othello (Monday)


  • Journal
  • Discuss video and questions
  • Are we Iago's best friend?  (Folger video)
  • Analysis of specific scenes


  • Read Act 4 (you need to finish the play for Friday)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Language in Othello P. 1


  • Vocab quiz
  • "Language in Othello" Viewing:

  • Read Act 3 (You will be reading act 4 for Tuesday)
  • Journal Questions:
    • How is language a tool of villainy?
    • What about language makes it ready-made for Iago's actions?
    • Can words be counted on to convey a fixed meaning?
    • What (if anything) changes meaning?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Motives in Othello


  • Allegorical v. psychological evil
  • Close analysis of selections of act 2 + assignment of a side
  • Viewing:
  • Journal: What do you think Iago is?  Base you answer on your reading of Othello thus far as well as the video we viewed in class.  Please refer to specific details within Othello
  • Vocab tomorrow
  • Sonnets due tomorrow
  • Read Act 3 + 4 for Monday

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sonnet Quiz


  • Sonnet Quiz
  • Have finished Othello act 2 for tomorrow
  • Vocab Quiz Friday
  • Sonnet writing due Friday

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Othello's Epithets


  • Defining epithets
  • Epithets we use Journal
  • What affect do epithets have?  On us?  On others?
  • Finding Othello's epithets in Act 1 (Where?  Who said them?  What is their motivation?)
  • How do you think that the epithets affect characterization?  Might affect how the plot moves forward?
  • Read Act 2
  • Study for Sonnet test
  • Vocab Quiz Friday
  • Sonnet Writing due Friday

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sonnet Review


  • Sonnet check-in
  • Sharing sample sonnets
  • Workshop Shakespearean Sonnet Scenarios
  • Read Act 1 of Othello
  • Check late work status
  • Sonnet Test Wednesday
  • Vocab Test Friday

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spenserian Sonnets + The Blazon


  • Review Amoretti homework questions
  • Notes on the blazon 
  • Sonnet 130 analysis
    • How is Shakespeare using these conventions?
  • Sonnet 138 individual analysis
  • SIFT on "The Man in the Black Suit" due tomorrow
  • MC due after break
  • Sonnet Song Rewrite due after break

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sample Song Sonnet

To her, Nona, I may finally speak.
Her nose ring glistens like Midas' gold.
She's a song only lips of angels old.
Her eyes, jewels even Heave would seek.
Yet to me, she would not give 'nother peek.
Cooler than me, one may call her ice cold.
Bad boys she loves, the ones most tough and bold.
Compared to her love interests, I'm meek.
If you were me, you'd be screamin', "Shoot me!"
Like a bad movie, through me she is lookin'.
My heart, crumpled, garbage, I feel a knave.
Oh mullets! Trans-Ams!  That's all she sees!
Her turntable eyes are, my heart, grinding.
She'll not know I'm the best she'll never have.

Adaptation of "Girl All the Bad Guys Want"--Bowling for Soup

Sonnet Day #3


  • Review of "The Parting"
  • Review Shakespearean Sonnet Conventions
  • Turning a song into a Petrarchan Sonnet
    • Choose a song about unrequited or lost love
    • Explain how it is Petrarchan
    • Plan out how your two parts of the sonnet.  Remember you need a shift, however subtle, from octave to sestet.
    • Start writing.  Remember you may pull from the song lyrics.  However, you should be adding in additional Petrarchan conventions and commonly used devices.  Refer to your notes if necessary.
    • Make sure you are following the rhyme scheme and using ten syllables per line.  If you are feeling extra ambitious try true-to-form iambic pentameter.
  • SIFT due Friday
  • Read and answer questions on Spenser's sonnet for tomorrow
  • Sonnet Song due after break
  • MC packet due after break

Sonnet Day #2


  • Review Petrarchan Conventions
  • Add notes
  • Reading sample Petrarchan Sonnet
  • Read Drayton's "The Parting" and mark up what you notice about it
  • "The Man in the Black Suit" SIFT due Friday

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sonnet Introduction Day


  • Analysis of Millay Sonnet:
    • What sonnet features does it possess?
    • What could you use to talk about the deeper meaning on the AP exam?
  • Analysis of Heaney's "The Forge"

  • SIFT on "The Man in the Black Suit"
  • Write an essay in which you analyze how the character of the blacksmith in "The Forge" is developed through devices such as structure, motif, and point of view.  
    • If you use structure, please be more specific than saying just "structure" in your essay.  Please refer to specific structural devices.
    • Give yourself about 30-35 minutes to write you essay since you started looking at the poem in class.  Make this as authentic to AP time constraints as possible.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

AP Essay #1 Review


  • Review Essay 1
  • Samples of Essay 1

  • SIFT due next Friday on "The Man in the Black Suit"
  • Read sample poem + mark up anything you notice for Monday

Wednesday, February 4, 2015



  • Discussion of handing in homework
  • Review of Essay #3 and grading criteria
  • Review of Exam
  • Self Grading with criteria
  • Be aware if you have handed in all of the work due so far this semester

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Morality Plays: Everyman


  • Finish Everyman and viewing notes
  • Test tomorrow Gawain through Everyman

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"The Pardoner's Tale"


  • Notes on Allegory and "The Pardoner's Tale"
  • Discussion of tale
  • SIFT analysis due Friday
  • Medieval texts test on Thursday
  • Be prepared to discuss the Pardoner tomorrow

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"The Miller's Tale"


  • Journal: What is the point of "The Miller's Tale"?
  • Discussion
  • Sharing of Pilgrim Prologue Writing
  • Read "The Wife of Bath's Tale"
  • Vocab Quiz tomorrow
  • Complete corrections by end of midterm week

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chaucer BG


  • Chaucer Vocab
  • Chaucer notes

  • Read "The Miller's Tale"
  • Make sure that your pilgrim is written for tomorrow and follows the conventions Chaucer does--as noted in the last blog entry and as described in the ppt
  • Make sure that you've added any humors/clothing descriptors of note to your pilgrims
  • Vocab quiz will be short on Friday

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Poetry Out Loud Contest


  • POL Presentations
  • Self-evaluation
  • Review of most recent MC test
  • Vocab Quiz tomorrow
  • Read the introduction of TCC and complete the Google Doc for tomorrow
  • Read "The Miller's Tale" for Thursday
  • Complete the following writing prompt for Wednesday:
    • Write an introduction for a pilgrim in the style of Chaucer's narrator.  Please choose someone that others in the class may be familiar with--whether it be a celebrity or someone in the school.  (If you pick the latter, please remember that you need to be kind.)
    • Requirements to mimic Chaucer:
      • Includes alliteration 
      • Includes similes
      • Contains heroic couplets
        • Try for the ten syllables even if you do not maintain iambic pentameter
      • Include a description of the manners/temperament, skills, habits, appearance, and clothes of the character as Chaucer does for his pilgrims
      • Remember that Chaucer avoids direct judgment
        • You still will include stereotypes to lead the reader to come to a certain conclusion, but you shouldn't say, "Ms. Hoffmann is a terrible pilgrim."  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Intro to Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales


  • Discuss last class' assignment--MC questions
  • Canterbury Tales Videos

  • Monday: Poem Presentations
  • Tuesday: Have read the Prologue and completed the shared Google Doc as per the directions provided in it

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wrapping Gawain


  • Discussion of interpretations
  • Working on Poetry Out Loud

  • SPOTTTS for Friday
  • POL presentations on Monday

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gawain Interpretations


  • Choose one of the following interpretations from either Wikipedia or Goucher College.
  • Read through it and determine what it is arguing or what questions it is raising.
  • Write no less than half of a page (this does not include your heading or all of the fun spaces you put after it) explaining whether or not you agree with said reading.  You may want to only focus on one of the key questions raised in the interpretations that you chose if it is a broader one.  You MUST include reference to specific textual details in order to support your claims.

From Wikipedia:

Gawain as medieval romance[edit]

Gawain represented the perfect knight, as a fighter, a lover, and a religious devotee. (The Vigil by John Pettie, 1884)
Many critics argue that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight should be viewed, above all, as a romance. Medieval romances typically recount the marvellous adventures of a chivalrous, heroic knight, often of super-human ability, who abides by chivalry's strict codes of honour and demeanour, embarks upon a quest and defeats monsters, thereby winning the favour of a lady. Thus, medieval romances focus not on love and sentiment (as the term "romance" implies today), but on adventure.[64]
Gawain's function, as medieval scholar Alan Markman says, "is the function of the romance hero … to stand as the champion of the human race, and by submitting to strange and severe tests, to demonstrate human capabilities for good or bad action."[65] Through Gawain's adventure, it becomes clear that he is merely human. The reader becomes attached to this human view in the midst of the poem’s romanticism, relating to Gawain’s humanity while respecting his knightly qualities. Gawain "shows us what moral conduct is. We shall probably not equal his behaviour, but we admire him for pointing out the way."[65]
In viewing the poem as a chivalric romance, many scholars see it as intertwining chivalric and courtly love laws under the English Order of the Garter. The group's motto, 'honi soit qui mal y pense', or "Shamed be he who finds evil here," is written at the end of the poem. Some critics describe Gawain's peers wearing girdles of their own as evidence of the origin of the Order of the Garter. However, in the parallel poem The Greene Knight, the lace is white, not green, and is considered the origin of the collar worn by the knights of the Bath, not the Order of the Garter.[66] The motto on the poem was probably written by a copyist and not by the original author. Still, the connection made by the copyist to the Order is not extraordinary.[67]

Christian interpretations[edit]

Scholars have pointed out parallels between the girdle Bertilak's wife offers Gawain, and the fruit Eve offered to Adam in the Biblical Garden of Eden. (Adam and EveLucas Cranach, ca. 1513)
The poem is in many ways deeply Christian, with frequent references to the fall of Adam and Eve and to Jesus Christ. Scholars have debated the depth of the Christian elements within the poem by looking at it in the context of the age in which it was written, coming up with varying views as to what represents a Christian element of the poem and what does not. For example, some critics compare Sir Gawain to the other three poems of the Gawainmanuscript. Each has a heavily Christian theme, causing scholars to interpret Gawain similarly. Comparing it to the poem Cleanness (also known asPurity), for example, they see it as a story of the apocalyptic fall of a civilisation, in Gawain's case, Camelot. In this interpretation, Sir Gawain is likeNoah, separated from his society and warned by the Green Knight (who is seen as God's representative) of the coming doom of Camelot. Gawain, judged worthy through his test, is spared the doom of the rest of Camelot. King Arthur and his knights, however, misunderstand Gawain's experience and wear garters themselves. In Cleanness the men who are saved are similarly helpless in warning their society of impending destruction.[29]
One of the key points stressed in this interpretation is that salvation is an individual experience difficult to communicate to outsiders. In his depiction of Camelot, the poet reveals a concern for his society, whose inevitable fall will bring about the ultimate destruction intended by God. Gawain was written around the time of the Black Death and Peasants' Revolt, events which convinced many people that their world was coming to an apocalyptic end and this belief was reflected in literature and culture.[29] However, other critics see weaknesses in this view, since the Green Knight is ultimately under the control of Morgan le Fay, usually viewed as a figure of evil in Camelot tales. This makes the knight's presence as a representative of God problematic.[27]
While the character of the Green Knight is usually not viewed as a representation of Christ in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, critics do acknowledge a parallel. Lawrence Besserman, a specialist in medieval literature, explains that "the Green Knight is not a figurative representative of Christ. But the idea of Christ's divine/human nature provides a medieval conceptual framework that supports the poet's serious/comic account of the Green Knight's supernatural/human qualities and actions." This duality exemplifies the influence and importance of Christian teachings and views of Christ in the era of the Gawain Poet.[35]
Furthermore, critics note the Christian reference to Christ's crown of thorns at the conclusion of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. After Gawain returns to Camelot and tells his story regarding the newly acquired green sash, the poem concludes with a brief prayer and a reference to "the thorn-crowned God".[68] Besserman theorises that "with these final words the poet redirects our attention from the circular girdle-turned-sash (a double image of Gawain's "yntrawpe/renoun") to the circular Crown of Thorns (a double image of Christ's humiliation turned triumph)."[35]
Throughout the poem, Gawain encounters numerous trials testing his devotion and faith in Christianity. When Gawain sets out on his journey to find the Green Chapel, he finds himself lost, and only after praying to the Virgin Mary does he find his way. As he continues his journey, Gawain once again faces anguish regarding his inevitable encounter with the Green Knight. Instead of praying to Mary, as before, Gawain places his faith in the girdle given to him by Bertilak’s wife. From the Christian perspective, this leads to disastrous and embarrassing consequences for Gawain as he is forced to reevaluate his faith when the Green Knight points out his betrayal.[69]
An analogy is also made between Gawain’s trial and the Biblical test that Adam encounters in the Garden of Eden. Adam succumbs to Eve just as Gawain surrenders to Bertilak’s wife by accepting the girdle.[69] Although Gawain sins by putting his faith in the girdle and not confessing when he is caught, the Green Knight pardons him, thereby allowing him to become a better Christian by learning from his mistakes.[70] Through the various games played and hardships endured, Gawain finds his place within the Christian world.

Feminist interpretations[edit]

Lady Bertilak at Gawain's bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Feminist literary critics see the poem as portraying women's ultimate power over men. Morgan le Fay and Bertilak's wife, for example, are the most powerful characters in the poem—Morgan especially, as she begins the game by enchanting the Green Knight. The girdle and Gawain's scar can be seen as symbols of feminine power, each of them diminishing Gawain's masculinity. Gawain's misogynist passage,[71] in which he blames all of his troubles on women and lists the many men who have fallen prey to women's wiles, further supports the feminist view of ultimate female power in the poem.[72]
In contrast, others argue that the poem focuses mostly on the opinions, actions, and abilities of men. For example, on the surface, it appears that Bertilak’s wife is a strong leading character.[73] By adopting the masculine role, she appears to be an empowered individual, particularly in the bedroom scene. This is not entirely the case, however. While the Lady is being forward and outgoing, Gawain’s feelings and emotions are the focus of the story, and Gawain stands to gain or lose the most.[74] The Lady "makes the first move", so to speak, but Gawain ultimately decides what is to become of those actions. He, therefore, is in charge of the situation and even the relationship.[74]
In the bedroom scene, both the negative and positive actions of the Lady are motivated by her desire.[75] Her feelings cause her to step out of the typical female role and into that of the male, thus becoming more empowered.[76] At the same time, those same actions make the Lady appear adulterous; some scholars compare her with Eve in the Bible.[77] By forcing Gawain to take her girdle, i.e. the apple, the pact made with Bertilak—and therefore the Green Knight—is broken.[78] In this sense, it is clear that at the hands of the Lady, Gawain is a "good man seduced".[78]

Postcolonial interpretations[edit]

From 1350 to 1400—the period in which the poem is thought to have been written—Wales experienced several raids at the hands of the English, who were attempting to colonise the area. The Gawain poet uses a North West Midlands dialect common on the Welsh–English border, potentially placing him in the midst of this conflict. Patricia Clare Ingham is credited with first viewing the poem through the lens of postcolonialism, and since then a great deal of dispute has emerged over the extent to which colonial differences play a role in the poem. Most critics agree that gender plays a role, but differ about whether gender supports the colonial ideals or replaces them as English and Welsh cultures interact in the poem.[79]
A large amount of critical debate also surrounds the poem as it relates to the bi-cultural political landscape of the time. Some argue that Bertilak is an example of the hybrid Anglo-Welsh culture found on the Welsh–English border. They therefore view the poem as a reflection of a hybrid culture that plays strong cultures off one another to create a new set of cultural rules and traditions. Other scholars, however, argue that historically much Welsh blood was shed well into the 14th century, creating a situation far removed from the more friendly hybridisation suggested by Ingham. To support this argument further, it is suggested that the poem creates an "us versus them" scenario contrasting the knowledgeable civilised English with the uncivilised borderlands that are home to Bertilak and the other monsters that Gawain encounters.[79]
In contrast to this perception of the colonial lands, others argue that the land of Hautdesert, Bertilak’s territory, has been misrepresented or ignored in modern criticism. They suggest that it is a land with its own moral agency, one that plays a central role in the story. Bonnie Lander, for example, argues that the denizens of Hautdesert are "intelligently immoral", choosing to follow certain codes and rejecting others, a position which creates a "distinction … of moral insight versus moral faith". Lander thinks that the border dwellers are more sophisticated because they do not unthinkingly embrace the chivalric codes but challenge them in a philosophical, and—in the case of Bertilak's appearance at Arthur’s court—literal sense. Lander’s argument about the superiority of the denizens of Hautdesert hinges on the lack of self-awareness present in Camelot, which leads to an unthinking populace that frowns on individualism. In this view, it is not Bertilak and his people, but Arthur and his court, who are the monsters.[80]


Challenging Male/Female and Animal/Human Binary Oppositions

when the host’s wife "captures" Gawain three mornings in a row, she reverses the gender dynamics scripted for both of them in Arthurian romance. When Gawain puts on her "girdel" (1829), he is cross-dressing, albeit secretly (a not uncommon practice among transvestites in cultures which repress the practice). The kisses he trades with the host are interpretable as the normal "salute" given by hosts and guests in most courts of medieval Europe, but since these are kisses Gawain has "won" from the host’s wife, and they are kisses he gives the host in lieu of explaining from whom he had them, Gawain’s gender-role becomes quite complex. Note the Green Knight’s explanation that "that tappe" of the ax on Gawain’s neck was his payment for Gawain’s failure to reveal the girdle—so the neck wound rewards the secret adoption of a female signifier. Why does the poet construct the Green Knight as such an outrageously testosterone-rich figure, especially in his role as the host? Why is the lady so aggressive, and why is Gawain so passive? Does this explain Gawain’s sudden burst of misogyny upon being informed of the women’s role in his deception (2411-2428)?
Gawain’s host hunts three animals whose deaths and butchery are described in intimate detail. After the hunt, which we follow from the deer’s perspective, the deer’s body becomes reduced to ritually named parts in a celebration of mortality which feeds all manner of species until the best cuts are presented to Gawain as his "prys" (1379). The poet similarly gives full attention to the deaths of the boar and fox, and to their transformation into inanimate but valuable body parts, all of which find their way to Gawain. What is the poet’s attitude toward these ceremonial killings? How does the repeated butchery of the animals relate to the scenes of refined bedroom word-play with which they alternate? What kind of animal is a "Gawain," and what does the poet expect us to feel because of that?

The Hunt Game in general--
In general, the beasts of the hunt are divided into three groups--noble beasts (stag) reserved to the king, beasts of the chase which the nobility may pursue (boar), and vermin which usually are left to peasants (fox). The beasts also have symbolic significance that dates back to the oldest oral tradition fables: the lion and stag are brave, the fox is clever, the boar is gross and violent, etc. A later medieval tradition among the troubador poets of Provance equated the hunt of the hart (male deer) with the hunt of the heart (pursuit of the beloved [or love itself] by the lover).
The Hunt Game in SGGK--
Move #1: The Host offers Gawain dominion over his castle; Gawain offers in return to do anything that will please the Host.
Move #2: The Host offers the "Hunt Game": The Host will hunt outside the palace and Gawain will "hunt" within the palace; each will exchange winnings with the other at the end of each day.
Move #31st hunt--The Host captures and kills a hind (female deer); Gawain resists the seductions of the Host's Lady and "wins" a kiss. The Host awards Gawain the hind and Gawain presents the host with a kiss.
Move #42nd hunt--The Host captures and kills a boar; Gawain resists the Lady's seduction and wins a kiss. Exchange of gifts.
Move #53rd hunt--The Host captures and kills a fox; Gawain resists the lady, wins three kisses, but succumbs to the lure of the Green Girdle's supposed protective power. The Host gives Gawain the fox pelt, and Gawain gives him three kisses, but hides the Green Girdle.
    What restores the imbalance caused by Move #5 in the gift-giving game? What is it to lose a game? What is it to win one? In what games is deception justified? What is God's game?

Seasonal Change and Seasonal Renewal

Gawain as "sacrifice"—both Christian and pagan calendars are governed by a cycle of abundance and dearth, ritual sacrifice and renewal. Gawain, like the Green Knight, takes part in a blood-letting ceremony which occurs at the turning point of the new year. If we keep in mind that the Christian calendar traced the beginning of the year to the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, this tale’s Christian "exterior" (built of the symbols on Gawain’s shield and the routine observance of ritual) may actually contain a more profound Christian "interior" in which Gawain becomes a kind of Christ. If so, how does this square with the motivating presence of "Morgne the goddes" (2452)? Why would the court of King Arthur need a Christ-figure? Would the poet expect his audience to reach this conclusion easily, or is it something hidden from all but the expert reader? Would this have anything to do with the way we should read Pearl, assuming as most scholars do that both poems are by the same author? (Gawain is the second knight in Arthurian romance who sees "the blode blenk on the snawe" [2315]; the first, Percival, sees it fall from the holy lance in the Grail’s procession and suddenly realizes the significance of the vessel, his Lord’s sacrifice, and his own naïveté.)