Click on a part of the picture to learn more about Sir Gawain and the medieval era.
Shield: As Sir Gawain is about to begin his journey to meet the Green Knight, he is given a shield to protect himself. This shield has a greater significance than just a form of protection. A pentangle is engraved in gold on the shield that represents the true characteristics and virtues of Sir Gawain. The text describes the pentangle as "It is a sign by Solomon sagely devised To be a token of truth, by its title of old, For it is a figure formed of five points, And each line is linked and locked with the next For ever and ever, and hence it is called In all England, as I hear, the endless knot. And well may he wear it on his worthy arms, For ever faithful five-fold in five-fold fashion Was Gawain in good works, as gold unalloyed, Devoid of all villainy, with virtues adorned in sight." (Norton 171) Sir Gawain truely lives the life of an honest and noble knight and the people of King Arthur's court also view him this way because they believed he is worthy of wearing such a symbolic shield. Sir Gawain is a courteous knight; he is fautless in his five senses, and he lives a righetous life. There is also a picture of Mary on the inside of the shield that remins him that Mary will protect him.
Horse: Horses were used during the medieval era as a form of transportation. They usually cost about 10 gold pieces and a knight had one or two. Sir Gawain rides to the chapel of the Green Knight on his horse. It would have been impossible for a person to walk such long distances by foot, and a horse eliminated much wear and tear on foot gear and also cut travel times in half. Horses were also used in battle and were an advantage in fighting the enemy. By being mounted on a horse, a knight had a higher view of the battlefield and was higher up and away from his enemies. In this picture Sir Gawain's horse, Gringolet, is also wearing armor for protection.
Knight: The word "knight" comes from the Old English word "cnight," which means a household retainer. Knights during the medieval era were sometimes viewed as assassins for hire. Knights were very skilled people who trained from the time they were children. A Knight's main purpose was to be hired by a king to fight and defeat any enemies that might be threat to the kingdom. Knights were trained to use many weapons and also learned how to wrestle their enemies to the ground. Sir Gawain was a loyal knight to King Arthur and a member of his Round Table.
Lance: According to the Webster Dictionary, the definition of a lance is "a weapon of war consisting of a long shaft with a sharp steel head carried by mounted knights or light cavalry." (Webster 645) A lance was used not only in battle but also in knightly jousts that were held for sport. In these duels, the knights used blunted wooden lances and tried to knock each other from their horses.
1. Abrams, M. ed. etal. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. vol. 1. 6th edition. New York: Norton and Company: 1993, 253-281.
2. Online. Internet. HTTP://www.wcslc.edu/pers_pages/etl4893/pictures.htm Date Consulted 11/25/00 (Picture of Sir Gawain Ready for Battle)
3. Webster New Collegiate Dictionary. Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Company: 1975, 645.
4. The World Book Encyclopedia. vol. 11. Chicago: Field Enterprise Educational Corporation: 1969.Site by: