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Sir Gawain: The Quest of Reason Essay

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Sir Gawain and The Green Knight has prompted scholars to examine and diversely interpret the medieval narrative. One of the underlying questions that has been proposed embodies the analysis of the relationship between Christian and Pagan ideals and how knightly chivalry is influenced by religion during the Arthurian Romance period. It is no mistake that the two varied religious ideals are intertwined throughout the poem due to the nature of classical antiquity. Amidst the overlap between superstitious rituals and Orthodox- Christian beliefs it is clear that Sir Gawain has a sense of personal integrity guided by a moral compass.
The poem’s intricately balanced structure challenges the reader to seek out a resolution coherent with his or her own ethics. An admirable knight of King Arthur's renowned court, Sir Gawain is directed by a complex set of ethos, a collaboration of principles symbolized by the mystical pentangle. A five-pointed star composed of five interlocking lines; the figure represents a multitude of guiding tenets, representing both religious and knightly ideals. One can recognize that “the pentangle cognizance is explicated by the poet to signal Gawain’s complete Christian perfection, and for the reader to be aware of contemporary concerns about magical protective practices, hinting at human frailty” (Hardman 251).
The pentangle symbolizes the five virtues of knights consisting of, generosity, friendship, courtesy, chastity, and piety. All of which Gawain is striving to adhere to due to his knightly obligation to the code of chivalry. Gawain alleges that all virtues are seamlessly interconnected in the man as in the geometric figure on the shield. Together with the amour, the shield seems to complete the visi...


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... ritual of forgiveness whereby the blot of sin is effaced by penitence and satisfaction” (Sharma 180). Sharma acknowledges that there are Christian influences in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, but argues that Gawain does not always choose to follow those ideals.
The narrative artistry of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight can be attributed to the fundamental elements of chivalric life and the exploration of classic mythological elements that allows the narrative to bridge the gap between Christianity and Paganism, and allow its readers to find their own spiritual interpretation with in the text.



Works Cited

Sharma, Manish. "Hiding the Harm: Revisionism and Marvel in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." EBSCO host Academic Search Premier.

Phillipa, Hardman. "Gawain's Practice of Piety in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight." EBSCO host Academic Search Premier.


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