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 a...
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...g the symbolism of the pentangle on Gawains shield. Her observations show that the shield is actually a representation of the knight's soul.
8) Morgan, Gerald. "The Significance of the Pentangle Symbolism in Sir Gawain and
the Green Knight." Modern Language Review. 74 (1979): 769-790.
Morgan discusses each part of the pentangle in this article. Each part of the pentangle stands for an aspect of Gawains life.
9) Howard, Donald. Critical Studies of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Notre Dame:
Notre Dame Press, 1968.
This is a compiled work that presents several aspects of the poem. Each article offers a different view on the repersentation of certain symbols in the poem.
This website provides a detailed character analysis of Gawain, giving insight into the meanings behind his actions.
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