Allegory In The Romance Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

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Throughout the course of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the author uses characters to build a deep allegory hidden in the poem. Many characters in the poem show us that there are connections with Christianity to be found. A fair amount of the allegories presented in the poem can be found within the characters of The Green Knight, Gawain, and Lady Bertilak. Through these allegories, we can better understand the much deeper meaning of the story.

A strong piece of allegorical significance that immediately was presented to me was the Green Knight and his strong resembles God. As the poem begins, we have King Arthur and all of his royal subjects gathered exchanging gifts for one another while patiently waiting for the feast to begin. King Arthur begs to hear or see an amazing adventure, shortly following the Green Knight proceeds to enter the hall with Arthur and all of his nobles. The Green Knight is then described as “all garbed in green” (151) which provides allegorical significance to God and the eternal life that he carries since the color green brings the connotation of life and eternal life. Even though he is known as the Green Knight there is one thing belonging to his character that isn’t green. The Green Knight carries another strong allegory of God with him as he “rolled his eyes fiercely round the hall, red they gleamed under his green bushy brows” (304-305). While the green bushy brows still help to represent the eternal life of God, the red eyes of the Green Knight have brought the fact that God’s son Jesus shed his blood for humanity during his crucifixion. The Green Knight as well enters the Hall holding an item in each hand. A holly bob in one hand and an ax in the other. Two of these items he carries represent something. The holly bob is representing life and salvation after death while the ax is representing the complete opposite, death, and damnation. Again, these things help to create a God-like complex in the Green Knight. These items show that The Green Knight is going to decide Gawain’s fate just as God would, this allegory is created to help the readers understand what is in store for Gawain later on in the story.

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Secondly, Gawain is another character who provides very strong allegorical significance – and the most obvious – due to what he is described as in the story. As Gawain prepares to head out on his journey to meet his faith with the Green Knight at the Green Chapel; it speaks of the armor which Gawain wears. He was brought his shield to him; the shield wasn’t a normal wooden and iron medieval shield. It was one of noble standard “which was of bright red, with the pentangle painted thereon in gleaming gold.” (662-663). These two colors on the shield help to show that there is a possibility of salvation for Gawain which helps to foreshadow how the story might end for Gawain. Looking at the poem as a whole represents the journey we all must take. In life we all set out on a quest, at the end of that quest we must face our judgment which could end up being either our eternal salvation or eternal damnation. 


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