Paradox In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

683 Words3 Pages
A paradox is a statement or proposition that is contradictory and seems illogical, but when explained is true. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is filled with rich paradox’s which seem irrational to a first time reader, however when given a closer look into the meaning of text, they realize the symbolism in which this poem possesses. The whole poem is a contradiction within itself, but in order to see it in such a way the reader must first analyze the smaller pieces of contradictions throughout the text. Thus, the poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight teaches a life lesson through paradoxical rhetoric.
One of the first paradoxes is seen within the text is with regards to the green giant riding into the dining area of the knights on a horse.
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Sir Gawain states, “When I renown, and remember with shame/The faults and the frailty of the flesh perverse, /How its tenderness entices the foul taint of sin; /” (Part IV, L. 2434-2436). Sir Gawain wears his armor and the green girdle in order to symbolize his shame and how he failed in his eyes. However, the green giant does not see it that way. In fact, the green giant thinks of Sir Gawain as a noble man. However, Sir Gawain gives the armor a symbol of shame, but it is also a symbol of the fact that we humans were designed to be neither perfect nor imperfect. When Gawain returned to the knights at the round table, they too did not look at him with shame, but rather embraced the green girdle. Neither Sir Gawain nor the knights are wrong in shame or embracement, but rather both are right, thus creating a paradox. In fact, the poem closes with a paradox of the thorny crown of Christ, giving a validation of the meanings within the poem. The paradox of Christ also raises the stance that there is nothing wrong with the imperfection and contradictions viewed while reading this poem.
Most interestingly, the paradoxical Pearl poet added at the end of this poem, “HONI SOIT QUI MAL PENCE” (Part IV, L. 2531) otherwise translated as; “evil be to him who evil thinks” (page 64). This sentence adds further validation to the story of Sir Gawain by inserting background of King Edward. In conclusion, Sir Gawain and the green knight present a contradiction which teaches the reader a simple truth, which many often forget. We as humans are not perfect, however that does not mean we are
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