This is a romantic story vividly outlining Sir Gawain’s adventures. The poem presents Sir Gawain accepting a challenge from a mysterious warrior to strike him and takes a return blow in a year’s time. This warrior is green, and everything about him is green. The poem is a sophisticated masterpiece defying laws of nature and holistic view about life by most of the living creatures. Gawain accepts the challenge and beheads the creature in one blow. The disturbing and amazing part of the whole episode is the creature’s ability to pick up its head and walk away still reminding Gawain that they would meet at the appointed time that is after a year and one day! This happens on a Christmas day, a day for celebrations all over the world for the Christian faithful (Abrams). Most of this story takes place in a castle. The story has been argued from an apocalyptic point of view by Christians to be a representation of Eve and Adam story, where Gawain is Adam and lady Bertilak is Eve. The story portrays this challenge as not that of wealth and strength, but that of values. This paper will focus on bringing out the purposeful use of symbolism by the poet to bring out the worldview he had (Abrams).
There is a lot of representation of the world in the Arthur’s court, as the writer puts it. The life inside it seems very lovely and adorable. When Gawain returns from his encounter in pursuit of the way to the chapel, he is seen to return to the King’s court. This, at first instances, is symbolic of the place where only heroes are welcome. Merit is rewarded and heroism acknowledged. King Arthur rewards him for his heroism with the title. In addition, this place is filled with sin and evil. This gives another dimension as to what it actually symbolizes. This place makes Gawain to be fixed between the religious chastity and the sinful adulterous nature of the court. Through this information it can be deduced that the way the court looks like is not what it symbolizes. It is a den of sin and evil, a place where the leadership lives. As such, it demonstrates the worldview of the sinful nature of the kingdom, and that will eventually lead to its collapse. It acts as a place for antagonizing of the beliefs and values of faithful, until one has no more faith. Knights are to be courtesious and able to move women adorably while in this court. According to the knights’ rules they are also supposed to be celibate. This contradiction has been a source of backsliding of faithful ones. This place serves as a den of temptations. This court is a presentation of the world where there are two divides of values, and each of them seems to be convincing with enough reasons to make one loyal to it.
The busy nature of the landscape near the host’s castle is highly symbolic. From these bushes, he has been able to go to hunt wild animals, which he later slaughters in front of Gawain. These bushes and the rugged landscape are symbolic of the unstable environment people are living in terms of morals. The host’s wife has several times tempted Gawain to sex, but not successfully. Through this, the landscape can be used to symbolize the challenges surrounding Christians. It is highly hostile and unpredictable such that whoever hunts, will get something. The evil nature propagates killing of animals to the extent of making Gawain wonder what type of an animal he is.
Gawain’s bedroom has been used to symbolize the hunting ground for the evil ones. When the host goes hunting in the morning, his wife makes her way to Gawain’s bedroom to seduce him. She is very beautiful and sex-oriented. This bedroom presents Gawain’s encounters and afflictions going against his Christian chastity. This bedroom can then be taken as a symbol of a dark place, which gives every opportunity to sneak in slowly and finally engulfs Christians in sin. The host’s wife has succeeded in getting kiss on the first day, and it would not take long before Gawain gives in (Abrams).
Everything in the realm of the Green Knight is green. This has placed a lot of symbolism in the text showing the worldview of the writer. The green aura in this context is taken to mean the natural greenish look of environment symbolizing richness and abundance (Kittredge). The writer uses it to show the abundance of resources in the world. In addition, green is used to show natural magic; there is a lot of untamed potential and desire to exploit it should be propagated. In its wholeness, based on the nature of the evil the Green Knight lives in, it is a symbol of decay, sickness, and evil. The Green Knight is green and is evil. Consequently, the green aura symbolizes the same in this poem. This enables us to grasp the writer’s perception of the world as dirty place. People are evil, and the environment they live in can reflect this.
The chapel is green. This is where the beheaded Knight and Gawain will meet on the appointment day. It is presented as a very popular place since every person knows where it is. This Green Chapel is a symbol of the holy place where priests are ordained and trained. This presents the poet’s worldview about religion (Kittredge). When Gawain reaches the place, the beheaded Knight allows him to live and tells him he is worthy to be a knight himself. In this case, he symbolizes either a penitent in presence of a judge or a priest in a training facility for priesthood, which is this chapel. This further indicates the symbolism of this Green Chapel as the place where morals of individuals are judged. In line with this, it also represents the place of judgment of all human values. People are given a long period to evaluate their values and morals, but choose to do their own things. Based on Christian religion, the judgment day is coming at the throne of God Most High. This throne is symbolized by the Green Chapel. To get to the chapel Gawain has passed through many challenges. This is a symbol of hardness of the journey to the holy place, further insinuating that the chapel is a symbol of the holy throne (Kittredge). The twist of Gawain seeing the Knight as evil presents another dimension of a symbolic nature involving the Chapel. This can be interpreted as the den of evil, where people hide in religion to commit most the atrocities in the world or even worse. Gawain sees this place as forbidden. Inline with this, it can be used to describe the cunning nature of Satan, which leads people to this place that is hell, the den of all-evil. Through this symbol the poet has succeeded in portraying the dynamic nature of the world, where individuals have to be very careful.
The Pentangle is used by the writer to symbolize the virtues to be propagated in the world. They are so simple, but so hard to cultivate. People like Gawain are able to follow this narrow way to sanctity. It is a symbol of the Christian faithfulness and commitment, and the Christ’s suffering at the cross for the redemption of humankind (Goldhurst 63). The writer sees the world as governed by the ancient beliefs and events that dictate the future.
The Letter of the Law is used in likeness of the Old and New Testaments in the Bible, where a covenant is made between God and man. The covenant and the letter are equals. With coming of Christ, a new covenant is sealed. Although Gawain is tricked into the covenant, he is ready to follow it to completion, which implies his death (Goldhurst 62). This is used to represent the few individuals, who stand by their values. The world is so cruel and cunning, and the faithful will be tricked into deals so as to receive afflictions. This view is widely held not only by the writer, but also by many commoners living today.
In conclusion, this poem is highly symbolic in nature, and the writer seems to vividly and clearly portray his worldview and perception of religion. The Gawain’s bedroom is a den of temptation, while the Green Castle is a symbol of judgment place. King’s court is a presentation of the world where there are two divides of values, and each of them seems to be convincing with enough reasons to make one loyal to it. The green aura of the Knight’s residence is a symbol of the sinful nature of the world since Knight himself is presented as dirty in the first place. The busy nature of the landscape near the host’s castle can be used to symbolize the challenges surrounding Christians.