Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Symbolism

1328 Words6 Pages
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Hidden in Symbolism Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale of loyalty, virtue, and medieval tradition. However, reading this tale, while having an understanding of the symbolism, the moral of the tale has a much deeper meaning. When, identifying the instances of symbolism, and interpreting them it is important to keep in mind the context in which the symbolism lies, so that it develops a sense of meaning. The use of symbolism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, shows Gawain in a new way, and gives the story a new perspective. The first major instance of Symbolism is the Pentangle of Gawain’s shield. This symbol is full of symbolism. Starting with the shape of the pentangle, the reader gets a sense of unification…show more content…
In the tale there are two main characters: Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, and the green image is not just a title but also a symbolic trait found throughout the story. The first instance of green is in the green knight himself. And according to J.M Leighton, “Green is the colour of the vestments used at Epiphany, which begins at the end of Arthur's festivities (i.e. January 6th). It signifies...'faith, gladness, immortality” (Leighton, 56). This is important because these three virtues, if these can be considered virtues, seem to be apparent in the Green Knight’s appearance and personality. He has faith that Gawain will fulfill his part of the bargain, he is glad that Gawain takes Arthur’s place, and riding away after being decapitated shows his immortality. The next green symbol is the Green Girdle that the Lady of the Castle gives to Gawain. As Douglas M. Moon stated, it “appears at every point in the poem where Gawain has moved or been moved one step closer to the testing of his chastity,” (Moon, 338) The green girdle appears as well. This seems odd, since before, green was a symbol of hope, thankfulness and imperishable. However, the green “color symbolism...may well be...of celtic tradition” (Alan M Markman, 585), and according to celtic tradition, Green symbolizes fertility. In this context, when Gawain’s chastity is tested, the green girdle shows up, because it is a symbol of…show more content…
“The Significance of the Pentangle Symbolism in ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.’” The Modern Language Review, vol. 74, no. 4, 1979, pp. 769–790. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3728227. MORGAN, GERALD. “THE ACTION OF THE HUNTING AND BEDROOM SCENES IN SIR ‘GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.’” Medium Ævum, vol. 56, no. 2, 1987, pp. 200–216. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43629104. Hollis, Stephanie J. “The Pentangle Knight: ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.’” The Chaucer Review, vol. 15, no. 3, 1981, pp. 267–281. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25093761. LEIGHTON, J. M. “CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN SYMBOLISM AND RITUAL IN 'SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT'.” Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, no. 43, 1974, pp. 49–62. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41801571. Moon, Douglas M. “CLOTHING SYMBOLISM IN ‘SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.’” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, vol. 66, no. 3, 1965, pp. 334–347. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43342275. Markman, Alan M. “The Meaning of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” PMLA, vol. 72, no. 4, 1957, pp. 574–586. JSTOR, JSTOR,
Open Document