The Green Knight and Masculinity

Aarya Venkat
2 min readNov 18, 2021

The Green Knight (2021)

My favorite movie of 2021 was "The Green Knight".

I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories and Arthurian legends. The Green Knight was filled with symbolism, but one of my favorite themes was this battle between "being great" and "being good."

There are two perceptions of knighthood, one that is seen as a hero, a warrior, and victor.

The second is of a knight true to the five virtues of knighthood: generosity, friendship, chastity, courtesy, and piety.

And again, these two perceptions can be categorized into "greatness" and "goodness".

These perceptions of knighthood may also be dissected as a study of masculinity. Societies generally expect men to be great, to be victors, to be strong. Like knights, society also sees men as expendable. We're told, as we grow up, men do not cry, women and children first, men must be heroes, they must sacrifice themselves for others.

There is a sacrificial burden to greatness; one that isn't told in tales and legends. One that isn't revealed on instagram or facebook either. Success is flawless, the greatest knights do not suffer for their success.

And that thinking is dangerous. Toxic. It makes men believe that if they are suffering to be great, there must be something wrong with them. There must be something to alleviate these burdens, something of themselves they can sacrifice.

Men are expected to be great, and in trying to be great, they sacrifice being good. Those knightly virtues are virtues to mock. White knighting. Society expects men to be great, but there is no emphasis on being good.

Every knight must make a choice between what is easy and what is good. And the path to greatness along an easy road is perhaps a path paved on the pain of others. To walk this path is to shed the virtues of knighthood, and it often requires the efforts of those closest to us to help us take another road.

The Green Knight - Five stars.

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Aarya Venkat

I am a Biochemistry PhD student who studies Biophysics and Computational Biology. Sometimes I write articles when I’m angry, like Prof Hulk.