Not  As  It  Seems!

Sir Gawain's Pentangle. Click to enlarge.
Sir Gawain's Pentangle
All is not as it seems in this section. This dichotomy is a device used throughout the poem. Arthur's valiant knights allow a complete stranger to ride untouched into their party. The Green Knight says he comes in peace yet he bears the axe. Reality is different from appearance. Reputations and proclamations are mere words and may be "puffed up." Men should seek the truth for themselves and they should be truthful to themselves. The author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is reminding the reader of the suddenness of death and the final judgment as called for in the Christian faith. That judgment can come upon you in your finest hour, in the midst of a party. Sir Gawain ultimately learns the lesson that men must be mindful of their pride. Although he almost completely resists the temptations set before him by the Green Knight, he does falter slightly, although only for fear of his own life. He thus realizes that the flesh is weak, even in the most noble of men. He takes on the belt that saves his life as a symbol to remind himself of his own weakness. He becomes wiser for having faced death because he realizes that symbols, like the green belt he wears, like the cross of Christ, can be powerful reminders of lessons and ideas forgotten in the rush of daily life and human vanity.

Pentangle created by Lowell Wilson in 3d Studio Max
This page and all graphics created by Lowell Wilson
Email Lowell