Green Knight


Green Knight Essay, Research Paper


The knights of this poem center their lives in bravery, courtesy, and everything in general that chivalry comprises. They are virtuous men who honor the “five wounds” of Christ, and “the five wits”(640-642) through the symbol of the pentangle on their armor. The worst thing that any of these men can do is act incorrectly which is exactly what the Green Knight intends to make them do.

This monster is the tool that is used to evoke dishonor from both Gawain and his other fellow Knights. His sheer size is meant to make them cower. He an imposing creature, “higher than any in the hall by a head and more”(333), that attempts to make them show their fear. When they will not accept his challenge he calls them “beardless boys”(281). It is also the size and power of the Knight that makes Gawain accept the green girdle from Bertilak?s wife. This shameful deed is a success of the Green Knight; his being evokes this dishonorable act. It is also important that the Green Knight is the issuer of the punishment at the end. In a sense he plays the role of both God and the Devil at the same time. Throughout the poem he has tempted Gawain in every way possible. Now, however, he administers just punishment, provides a moral discussion of Gawain?s successes and failures, and finally rewards his honor with a gift that also stands as a lastly memory of the shame

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