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sir gawain

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Monique Sanchez
Mr. Morris, AP Literature
The Awakening
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a poem that enlightens readers by being well written, usage of language, and by giving glimpses of a more illumining reality. As the story unfolds I came to realize there is an ongoing symbolic death and re-birth of Sir Gawain. His symbolic death and re-birth is used to provide meaning to the writing beyond what is actually being described and to enhance the poem. Part One foreshadows Sir Gawain’s death when he volunteers as tribute to “axe” the Green Knight. When the “ body spurted blood, gleaming red on green skin” (430-431) death instantly pops into mind. However it’s as thought the Green Knight is resurrected when he picks up his own heard and walks out of King Arthur’s place triumphantly. This symbolizes Gawain’s rebirth that will happen in the end. Because just as he will be close to death, he will overcome the impossible and survive against all odds.
Part Two begins with the changing of the seasons. From Christmas -to the bright spring and summer days- then back to the harsh winter. At the end of the years the knights help in sending Gawain on his quest to seek the Green Chapel where the Green Knight will await. The seasonal imagery sets a tone of mutability and unstableness for the rest of the poem. This is essential because Gawain is quickly called upon thereafter to demonstrate steadfastness in a world that is designed to change and be changed by the cycles of life and death.
Sir Gawain “Wept for misdeeds, and shaped the sign of the cross and called Christ in his need” (760-762). He desperately prays in hope to survive the brutal conditions he is in. Just as he repents his sins he looks up to see a beautiful, white castle in sight. Gawain prayed hoping he would be able to live. This is seen as a “rebirth” in the poem, for he had been close to dying.
In the end the Green Knight chooses to spare Sir Gawain’s live. However when he chips Gawain with his axe he is symbolically “dead” because he betrayed the Green Knight by accepting the belt from his wife. He must live with that scar on his arm for the rest of his life and be reminded of the sins he committed. However this can also be seen as an awakening and rebirth, because now Gawain knows what he has done and he will not commit the same crimes again. The story ends with him being more noble than he is in the beginning of the poem.

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