I’ve been a little silent these past few weeks, but if I may, I’d like to let my creative juices flow.
I don’t usually like theories about literature (especially something as old and unknown as Gawain), but I find myself thinking of the scenarios that led to the events in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Asking so broad a question can sometimes be daunting and other times be just silly. Sometimes that kind of questions is so vast that it actually does more harm than good in a meaningful literary discussion. Who cares if Peter was actually Mrs. Darling’s child that died and is trapped in limbo? A lot of people do. It seems that some get caught up in the idea that Chuckie is the only one of The Rugrats that is actually alive and they don’t notice the other important themes of gender and parenting in the show. But people like talking about these theories! They seem to flood our Facebook news feeds and lead to shady websites selling God knows what, but at least they start an important dialogue to think more creatively about the media that shapes our lives. Literary criticism, after all, uses different theories to look at a text. If we think critically, we can start to question our notions about the things that we as humans produce.
So that gets me to Gawain. We mentioned in class that Arthurian legend is like fanfiction. It exists only because readers and listeners of stories started to create their own. I am a strong believer that books (among other things) belong to their readers. So how might I go about writing my own fanfic for Arthur? It, in essence, would be a theory that I devise and then apply to my own story about previously created characters and places. What if the only way to win Arthur’s (totally not-platonic) love was to prove that he is manly enough to take on the Green Knight’s challenge? Their romantic endeavors could be explored in a hot and heavy battle against the forces of the Fairy World. Maybe the Green Knight is actually Gawain’s son that is a time traveler (timey-wimey). I’m not sure if any of these make sense, but I don’t think that’s the point. Storytellers didn’t seem to care what is and what isn’t canonical. They just wrote a story that allowed their voice to be heard in this mass of Arthurian mythology. I think that is what is so special about humans. It’s why we all use the internet. We can add our thoughts with other billions of people to create social movements or raise money for an important cause. I don’t want to understate the importance that I think community has in writing and creating new things. Literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum to be consumed into nothingness like everything else in this world. If you want the Green Knight to be an illusion that only Gawain can see and everyone else just goes along with his delusion because he’s actually a patient in a mental ward and Arthur is his doctor, then go for it! Save that for posterity.
What’s a theory that you have about anything that we’ve read?