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The christianity aspects in the poem sir gawain and the green knight

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03. Pagan and Christian Elements

Page history last edited by Allison Borcuch 7 years, 5 months ago Allison Borcuch Religion and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Religion in 14th and 15th century England the Catholic church influenced the daily lives of most of England. The church and its officials held the majority of the societal power, and the lay people as well as the upper classes looked to the religious affiliate for guidance and spiritual direction.

His religious and moral core is unshakeable, and he displays this proudly on his armor. The Pentangle, of five-pointed star represents all of the Christian and moral codes that he represents as a knight: Each of these either serves as a religious inspiration in battle or a reminder of his bravery and strength, and the fact that they are all intertwined in the Pentangle shape symbolizes the interconnectedness of Christianity and knighthood.

Although Gawain appears to be the model of knightly religious devotion, his faith meets a test at the castle of the lord and his once unshakeable faith falters.

Religion in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Borcuch

For three nights she comes to his chamber, and every night he only grants her kisses, depending on his knightly loyalty to God and to the lord to not disrespect her. Gawain cannot refuse such a gift and accepts it, despite its direct contradiction to both his faith and his loyalties. Because of his upcoming challenge with the Green Knight, Gawain succumbs to his temptation to seek supernatural protection.

  • Ultimately, the poem implies the loss of the importance of chivalric values, for as Gawain has learned, they do not always bring peace to the individual soul;
  • In a sense, it isn't at all Nature or the "all-natural" Green Knight that Gawain has been contending with, but merely the machinations of another human being, driven by human jealousies and emotions, and dependent on constructions and artifices just as elaborate as those we have already encountered in the other human characters;
  • Certainly this supposed "greatness" of Camelot is something we will want to consider at the end of the poem, when Gawain has returned to Arthur after his momentous adventure;
  • Therefore, the moral of this poem comprises the second aspect of deviation from Christian morality attached to the girdle;
  • Almost everything in life falls into groups threes:

However, this only succeeds in diminishing his faith. In accepting the girdle, he removes his complete trust in God and places it in supernatural forces. Therefore Gawain takes the fervent faith of the 14th and 15th centuries and demonstrates that any break in that faith results in punishment. After accepting the girdle, he knows that he has sinned and immediately seeks out confession from a priest.

Christianity ThemeTracker

However, Gawain cannot be truly repentant as he wears the girdle concealed beneath his clothing while he is confessing. Additionally, although he is partially confessing his acceptance of the girdle, his main motivation is to absolve his sins before meeting the Green Knight.

Because the possibility of his death is looming over his head, Gawain wants to ensure that his sins are forgiven so he can enter into heaven: Because religion was such a vital aspect to society, disrespecting the Christian beliefs is an immense sin. Therefore Gawain is unable to complete his quest without making restitution. When he meets the Green Knight to complete the second half of the challenge, in which the knight will have the opportunity to behead Gawain, the knight spares his life and merely nicks his neck.

His only failure was in accepting the girdle and questioning his faith in God, making him worthy of physical punishment.

  • However, Gawain keeps it a secret, just as the Lady asked him to, and thereby falls for her temptation;
  • Only now, with Bertilak's explanation, do the lady's seductive actions seem to bear a more planned, but somehow more sinister motive to the entire game;
  • In Christianity, symbols are constantly used throughout the bible as reminders of sins, mistakes and compromises of God's laws.

Gawain and the Green Knight models the sort of behavior expected in the 14th and 15th century. Religious morals were extremely prevalent, and Gawain demonstrates religious devotion to maintain his chivalric code. Then, when his faith is tested and wavers, the Pearl Poet uses him as an example of restitution.

Losing faith and sinning is unacceptable in medieval society, and in order to remain respected making amends is a necessary course of action.