Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

1482 WordsOct 24, 20146 Pages
In Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, the protagonist, Sir Gawain, is illustrated as the imperfect hero of the tale. His documented imperfections and various flaws create a sense of irony when put into comparison with the depiction of the pentangle on his shield. The pentangle, designed by King Solomon of old as his own magical seal, symbolizes the virtues that Gawain aspires to uphold: to be faultless in his five senses, that his five fingers were never at fault, being faithful to the five wounds received by Christ on the cross, to be fortified by the five joys Mary conceived in her son, Jesus, (the Annunciation, Nativity, Resurrection, Ascension, and Assumption), and to abide by fraternity, chastity, and general courtesy (Greenblatt 640). Ultimately, Gawain does fault short of these virtues which he, literally, has on his person at all times, emphasizing the pentangle as an all encompassing symbol of knighthood and chivalry for the setting of the tale. Visually, the pentangle, also referred to as the “endless knot”, is a five-pointed star enclosed in a circle or, in the case of Sir Gawain, a shield (Greenblatt 630). In examining the pentangle as a symbol of magic, writer Eliphas Levi notes that when the pentangle is illustrated right side up it is purporting spiritual dominance over that of the physical world (Levi 212). Conversely, when upside down, the pentangle is representative of the physical world ruling over the spiritual, a concept generally linked with with

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