Christian Symbolism and Chivalric Ideals in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Christian Symbolism and Chivalric Ideals in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Upon first Reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I noticed that it comes off as a romantic normative poem about chivalric ideals and traditions of the ruling class with covertly Christian Images. The protagonist character Sir Gawain stands out as the role model of the chivalric ideals of the 14th century while displaying Christian images on his armor. The combination of Gawain’s armor and actions throughout the poem exemplify his 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 Gawain followed the code of chivalry to have unwavering loyalty to his lord.
These beliefs in the code of chivalry and the Christian faith stood out most to me regarding this poem and how as the story progressed the author portrayed Gawain more and more as a symbol of the ideal Christian knight in particular by his armor. As I read the poem, part 2 to be precise was when Gawain was being armored for his journey and the armor he adorned showed direct reference to the Christian influence. The symbol that Gawain displayed on his shield and coat, and the fact that the author gives a great amount of detail to is the pentangle “that Solomon designed long ago as an emblem of fidelity” (Black 176), which resembles a never ending five point star that was symbolic of Gawain’s whole journey as it was his obligation made as a knight and as a Christian to fulfill h...


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...o had a strong belief in Christianity. But whatever the case Sir Gawain and The Green Knight is still a poem that can be read and appreciated by anyone and still take away the main points.



Works Cited

Arthur, Ross. “Gawain’s Shield as Signum.” Text and Matter New Critical Perspectives of the Pearl-Poet. Troy: The Whitston Publishing Company, 1992. Print.
Ashton, Gail. “The Perverse Dynamics of sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Arthuriana 15.3 (2005), pp. 51-74. JSTOR. Web. 2 Dec. 2013
Black, Joseph, et al, eds The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Concise Ed, Volume A. 2nd ed. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview. 2011. Print.
Green, Hamilton. “Gawain’s Shield and the Quest for Perfection.” ELH 29.2 (1962), pp. 121-139. JSTOR. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
Hodges, Laura. “Syngne, Conysaunce, Deuys.” Arthuriana 5.4 (1995), pp. 22-31. JSTOR. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.
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