Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Symbolism Analysis

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Analyse the importance of symbolism as a literary device in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This essay aims to discuss the importance of symbolism as a literary device in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Symbolism is a literary device which uses specific items or images to convey abstract concepts (Whitehead 22). In SGGK, the Gawain poet implements symbolism in the narrative through the symbols of the pentangle, the green girdle, Gawain’s armour, the seasons and nature, and the Green Knight. The poet’s use of symbolism as a literary device The poet uses symbolism as a literary device to THE PENTANGLE Although Gawain as a character is flawed, evidence of these flaws is not present in the symbol of the pentangle. On the surface level, the…show more content…
There have been many differing interpretations of the Green Knight’s purpose in the poem and what his green colour is symbolic of. The Green Knight enters Arthur’s court holding a holly-branch “Ȝe may be seker bi þis braunch þat I bere here, / Þat I passe as in pes, and no plyȝt seche” (Barron 265-266). The holly signifies peace but he also carries an axe, which signifies violence. Because of these dualities of his character, the Green Knight symbolic meaning can be interpreted in various ways. His true nature is unclear as he possesses conflicting characteristics. He is described as being simultaneously known and unknown, hero and villain, human and supernatural. He is the supernatural Green Knight but he is also the human named Bertilak. Markman (583) points out this ambiguity present in his character. It seems that the Green Knight is ultimately a symbol of nature, as he dies and is reborn, like part of a natural cycle. The Knight’s greenness is of symbolic significance; green is associated with nature and its cycles of growth and death, in this way the Green Knight is represented as a fertility god. The Green Knight’s association with the Green chapel enforces his association with nature. In this way, he is a representation of the Green Man. The colour green is symbolic of eternal life; the Green Knight possesses holly, which is evergreen even in winter, sharing this symbolism. Shedd (11) argues that the contest between the Green Knight and Gawain is symbolic of the struggle between the aspects of nature. To summate, the Green Knight and his green colour are significant symbols in SGGK
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