Symbolism in 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' Analytical Essay

Symbolism in 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'
In-depth look at the symbolism and meaning behind 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'.
# 117799 | 2,759 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2009 | US
Published on Dec 21, 2009 in History (British) , Religion and Theology (General) , Sociology (General) , Literature (General)

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In this article, the writer discusses that 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' is a mysterious and complex tale that is filled with symbolism that can at times have contradictory meanings, leaving the reader to discover the true meaning behind the tale. The writer notes that the strange knight decked from head to toe in green enters the story with no explanation and leads Gawain on a journey that could be seen as a ritual, religious allegory, or simply an adventure. The religious, ethical and mythical dimensions leave the reader with unanswered questions on the poet's primary intention. The writer discusses that the tale contains within it various themes that include the idea of chivalry, religion, mythology and folklore and even feminism. The writer concludes that although the story was perhaps simply meant to be entertainment, it cannot be denied that Gawain's test was based on the Christian code of morality and the story truly represents a time when chivalry was fading and the importance lied in Christianity, rather than in bravery and brotherhood.

From the Paper:

"The end of chivalry was apparent in the story and there appears to be a greater emphasis on religious virtues at the expense of chivalry. The codes of chivalry derive from the Christian concept of morality and thus the story being a test of chivalric values is also a test of Christian ones as well.
"Was this perhaps a way for the poet to teach aspects of Christianity? Possibly the poet wished to write a Christian poem glorifying Christian values and teaching readers a lesson in virtue. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is filled with Christian symbolism and being that piety, as well as chastity, were chivalric virtues; knights of the chivalric code had certain religious obligations."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Barron, W.R.J. Trawthe and treason: The sin of Gawain reconsidered. Manchester University Press, 1980.
  • Benson, Larry D. Art and Tradition in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1965.

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Symbolism in 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' (2009, December 21) Retrieved December 08, 2023, from

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