Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the poet depicts an entertaining story of adventure and intrigue. However, the poem is more than a grand adventure. It is an attempt to explore the moral ideals of Sir Gawain. Gawain's standards are represented by the pentangle on his shield. The depiction of the pentangle occurs when Sir Gawain is preparing to gear up for his quest for the Green Chapel. Gawain's outfit is described in great detail, including its color, makings, and apparel. His armor is meant to serve as a means of protecting his physical being. This shield has great spiritual values in the five-points of the pentangle. Representing the knight's physical being, the shield serves as a form of protection of the knight's inner soul. The attempt to maintain and balance his high religious values of the shield with his ideals of courtesy is the eventual cause of Gawain's downfall. The removal of Gawain's shield from his attire contributes to his downfall. Without the ideals of the pentangle protecting him he plummets into a world of turmoil.
Before Gawain's fall there is a combination of both virtues when Gawain, in search of the Green Chapel, prays for help on Christmas Eve. His language reveals his religious teachings and devotion:
..."I beseech of Thee, Lord,
And Mary, thou mildest mother so dear,
Some harborage where haply I might hear mass
And Thy matins tomorrow-meekly I ask it
And thereto proffer and pray my pater and ave
His speech combines the meekness and homage to the Lord that he has. Mary's knight's prayers seem answered as a castle becomes noticeable off in the distance. Though is seemingly a miracle Gawain remains true to his chivalric principles.
Gawain then rides up to the gate and asks for lodgings for this eve of Christ's birth. This simple scene shows how the pentangle can have true balance. As Hollis says, "Gawain prays for a solution to his current predicament, and upon finding a solution he procures his lodgings through courtly requests. Finally, he properly thanks Jesus for his 'good' fortune." As a result of Gawain's virtue he gains entrance into the castle. However, his entrance into the castle is for reasons that he is unaware of at the time. From the instant Gawain sets foot inside the castle his downfall is inevitable.
It is in this castle that Gawain's competing values are put to the test. Up until now Gawain has been fitted in his armor and shield, but at the castle he finds that there is no longer a need for his armor. Sir Gawain is now stripped of his symbolic identity by the removal of both shield and gear. In its...