Symbolism in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

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Symbolism in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”
There is a lot of symbolism in this story in context to the objects, animals, and people. Some objects that represent a lot of symbolism in this story are the green girdle, the pentangle on Gawain’s shield, and the significance of the Green Knight. I will explain their significance in detail for each one also including the different interpretations.

To start off I will discuss what the green girdle means in the story and will investigate upon this. The girdle was accepted by Gawain, which shows how he has failed the test on temptation for earthy desires since, back at that time, a girdle was seen as a sexual item, thus Gawain accepting the girdle shows his sexual weakness. Also he failed because, as the story says the girdle supposedly grants eternal life and by Gawain accepting this he fails and shows that he focuses more on preserving his own life. I researched this topic more and found that girdles in literature are, “…portrayed as magical, giving power and strength if worn by men, and protection if worn by women.” I also found that the men where the girdles because it gives them more freedom to fight and also it is a way to hold their weapons. For women, on the other hand, it symbolizes virginity and sometimes even seduction.

The pentangle actually has many meanings that I could infinitely talk about, but I will only list a few. In Germany the pentangle was used and placed on household objects to keep evil out of the house. Also the symbol was associated with magical charms and it is said that when it is place on a weapon, that it will call forth the powers of magic. When it is mentioned in the story, "a sign by Solomon,” it was basically talking about the King of Israel in the past where he used the pentangle on his ring to that he received from the archangel Michael to be able to control demons. Another interpretation of the pentangle is the fact that the pentangle symbolized the 5 virtues that knight...
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