McGuffins

With the new Green Knight movie coming out this year, I’m feeling the need to talk a bit more about the magical green girdle and our lasting fixation with “plot coupons”. The Green Knight’s girdle is a classic example of a magical artifact that is central to the plot, but is otherwise meaningless. We’ve started calling these items M(a)cGuffin’s in modern literature and cinema.

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the girdle goes one step further than the average McGuffin because Gawain obtaining and using it becomes a sign of his weakness. And, if that plot device had never existed in the story, our outcome would be the same: Gawain would receive his axe blow and still be spared by the Green Knight. Really, all the girdle serves to do is prove that Gawain is not honourable, as he lies to Lord Bertilak about receiving it and thus proves that Arthur’s knights are human. Huh. Shocking, that.

Plot Thickening

Ah, and what a thick roux I’ll need for a plot this delectable.

Just Another Tuesday

I get it.

Put a Ring on it

Rings? We don’t need no stinkin’ rings!

Fluids

Medieval Moment: If you haven’t heard of them, humours were used to describe a person’s health and temperament in the Middle Ages and earlier. The idea was that you had four humours that you needed to keep in balance, and that any one being too dominant would cause illness or turn you into a Grade A Jerk. There were a number of treatments that would help balance your humours, the most popular of which is bloodletting. Ultimately this theory was ditched as medicine progressed, but we still hold onto phrases that remind us of this part of our history.

https://www.britannica.com/science/humor-ancient-physiology

In Disguise

Subtle. Reallllll subtle.

Corny

She ain’t heavy. She’s my corn cob.

Unexpected

I don’t know of any medieval references to food being sentient, but if I find anything I’ll be sure to let you know.

The Green Chapel

Medieval Moment: If you wonder how Rey could so easily identify the Green Chapel, you need to know that she’s very up-to-date on the latest scholarship. That, and maybe she watched this video by Michael Smith. Smith believes that a cave above Wetton Mill must be what the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was thinking of when he was writing about the Green Chapel. We’ll never know whether this is true or not, but there is a certain amount of romance in the idea that the poem was based on real-life locations in the author’s life. Either way, the article below is worth a glance if you want to know more.

https://unbound.com/books/sir-gawain/updates/in-search-of-the-green-chapel-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight