This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Symbols And Symbolism In Sir Gawain And Green Knight

688 words - 3 pages

Symbolism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


Symbolism is a literary technique used in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to liven up the story and give a deeper significance to the plot.  Almost anything in the poem can be interpreted as a symbol in one way or another.  The Green Knight, the green sash, and Sir Gawain's shield are three of the most prominent symbols presented to us in this author's tale.



            The Green Knight, this poem's antagonist, serves as a symbol himself.  He is not only portrayed as evil, but a mixture of the familiar and foreign, nature and synthetic, and divine and damned origin.  His large stature can be interpreted as threatening or powerful.  His green glow could be nature-associated or alien-associated.  The first time he appears in the poem, he is even carrying a holly-branch (signifying peace) in one hand and a battle axe (signifying conflict) in the other.  It's hard to say exactly for what the Green Knight stands, because for every characteristic symbolizing one extreme, the other extreme is also symbolized.  Perhaps he stands for the Earth: for its familiar and foreign; peace and tempest; threatening and safe; evil and good attributes that exist in unity to make up this one giant ball of mass in the universe.  At the beginning he came for a dangerous game; we believe he wants to harm Sir Gawain.  In the end, it turns out that he planned the whole thing as a test for Gawain, knowing perfectly well that he would prevail, and that in the end, this whole ordeal would make him a stronger and better person. 



            The green sash is a smaller symbol in the story, yet serves quite a large purpose.  The green color signifies Gawain's cowardice, and the fact that he was going to encounter the green knight the next day.  The sash, supposedly able to keep him alive, was not the reason his life was spared, for the whole story was a test. ...

Find Another Essay On Symbols and Symbolism in Sir Gawain and Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

2183 words - 9 pages Knot: Magical Aspects of the Pentangle in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." Studies in the Literary Imagination. 4 (1971): 41-50. Kiteley discusses the representation of the pentangle as a magical force. He also states that nowhere else is the pentangle used as a "heraldic" device for Gawain. 7) Lass, Rose. "Mans Heaven: The Symbolism of Gawains Shield." Medieval Studies. 28 (1966): 354-360. Lass goes into great detail describing

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1962 words - 8 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Character Analysis of Sir Gawain "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell" is a medieval romance poem written by an anonymous author. Sir Gawain is one of the major characters in the poem. He is a very likable personality. Sir Gawain represents an ideal knight of the fourteenth century. Throughout the story, we see Sir Gawain portrayed as a very courteous and noble knight, always trying to help King Arthur

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

846 words - 3 pages for the story as well as for Gawain's life. He is not aware of it, but the castle is the place where he is tested, and ultimately his future is decided there. It is very typical of this kind of story to include such symbols, like the castle, to convey to the reader that whatever happens there should be remembered because it is important part of the story. References: 1. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In The Norton Anthology of Literature. Ed. M.H.Abrams, et al. Vol I. Sixth Edition. New York: W.W.Norton & Company, 1993, pp 200- 254.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

956 words - 4 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight In this passage taken from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Lines 1623-1718, the reader sees how Sir Gawain is the hero of the poem, through the tests of the host. Sir Gawain is speaking to the host of the castle where he is staying for a few days before journeying on to the Green Chapel. The host has just returned from hunting and killing some boar. While the host is out hunting for the boar, we learn that

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1082 words - 4 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Sir Gawain Faces Temptation      Sir Gawain was known as a noble and honest man who was willing to stare death in the face to protect King Arthur. However, the courtly Sir Gawain is submitted to the unexpected—not to the test he expects, but to one he does not expect (qtd. in Spearing). The underlying theme throughout the entire poem is temptation, which, is Sir Gawain’s greatest

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

1504 words - 7 pages The poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight compares a super natural creature to nature. The mystery of the poem is ironic to the anonymous author. The story dates back into the fourteenth century, but no one knows who originally wrote the poem. This unknown author explains in the poem of Sir Gawain not knowing of the location of the Green Chapel and or who the Green Knight really is. This keeps the reader entertained with the suspicion of not

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

804 words - 3 pages Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a tale spun from the Legends of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Typically intended to inspire lessons of chivalry and humility, Sir Gawain’s story follows the road paved by previous Camelot accounts. In thoroughly providing an analysis of this story one must first determine the plot, followed by the metaphorical use of illustration and imagery, which the storyteller employed in order to reveal

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

1623 words - 6 pages Sir Gawain and The Green Knight Summary The story begins in King Arthur's court, where he and the Knights of the Round Table are celebrating New Year's. While they are enjoying their feast, a gigantic Green Knight rides in on a green horse with an immense axe in his hand to offer them a challenge. His offer is: "I shall bide the fist blow, as bare as I sit…….., but in twelve month and one day he shall have of me the same." (Norton

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

1466 words - 6 pages In the Pearl poet’s Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, an epic talk emerges to reveal a man’s journey of honesty, morals, and honor. Sir Gawain accepts a challenge in place of his uncle King Arthur, with hidden tests and viable consequences. As Gawain begins his journey, he proudly upholds his knightly honor and seeks out his own death; however, Gawain gives into his human emotion and is soon distracted from his chivalrous motives. As a result

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

2388 words - 10 pages . The legendary King Arthur and his court in Camelot are the center of Arthurian legend that defined the chivalric code that was followed for centuries in Europe by knights. Arthurian legend through stories such as Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, defined the chivalric code and exemplified its uses throughout its plot. Even before the men in these steel suits knew these characteristics, Arthurian legend was developed in its earliest stages. While

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - 603 words

603 words - 2 pages admiration of all. Sometimes, the main character becomes a hero by overcoming some force within his or her own self. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this is ultimately what Gawain must do in order to be considered a hero. Sir Gawain is originally faced with the challenge of the Green Knight. The Green Knight appears in King Arthur's court and causes a disturbance, issuing an open invitation to all in the court "to strike one stroke for

Similar Essays

Symbolism In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1981 words - 8 pages literary device in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to give the plot a deeper and more significant meaning. Symbolism is used to emphasise the difference of this heroism story against others and therefore symbolism is of great importance in this poem. The importance of the following symbols will be discussed in this paper; the pentangle, the colour green, the Green Knight, the exchange of winnings game, the axe and the scar. This paper argues the

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight: Symbolism And Moral Seriousness

1232 words - 5 pages In the opening lines of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Gawain-poet predicates the numerous dualities—which lead the reader through questions of moral seriousness—that exist in the poem. The opening historical recounting, according to Richard Hamilton Green, reminds the reader that “the greatness of the past is marred by reminders of failure” (179). The paradox of triumph and greatness arising out of failure foreshadows Sir Gawain

Christian Symbolism And Chivalric Ideals In Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1920 words - 8 pages characteristics of Christian perfection and chivalric ideals. The very first scene with Bertilak of Hautdesert known as the Green Knight begins to mold your perception of how chivalrous Sir Gawain is by portraying him as valiant, humble, and virtuous knight to Arthur. I felt that the interruption of Arthur accepting Bertilak’s request, gave Gawain the chance to become a martyr if Arthur in fact could not behead Bertilak in a single swipe and therefore

"Sir Gawain And The Green Knight." By Sir Gawain

1170 words - 5 pages Sir Gawain and the Green GirdleThe distant effects brought upon by Sir Gawain keeping a Green Girdle are presented in the poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. There are several accounts where the main character, Sir Gawain, fights his inner human nature. Gawain is essentially a knight, and ultimately a human being that like all human beings, fears death. A green girdle given to him by a lord's lady in the end saves his life. However, Sir