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Christian Values in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Christian Values in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Thesis Statement: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight shows the struggle between a good Christian man against the temptations of this world.

I. Taking a Stand

A. Worthiness

B. Sir Gawain stands

C. Trial overcome

II. Staying True

A. Three temptations

B. Three hunts

III. Repentance

A. A promise kept

B. Confession of sin

Christian Values in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Symbolism is used throughout literature to give deeper meaning to a variety of literary works. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight symbolism is seen through the actions of Sir Gawain against the trials he faces. The poem is first set during Christmas time at Camelot, showing that they were Christian for they were celebrating Christmas. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight shows the struggle between a good Christian man against the temptations of this world. Symbolically, one can see Sir Gawain holding true to Christian values: first, by standing up for what he believes in; second, by staying true to a future mate; and thirdly by repenting from sins due to a broken promise.

In the opening scene Sir Gawain faces his first trial when the Green Knight proposes his "Christmas game." The room falls silent for "If he astonished them at first, stiller were then/ All that household in hall, the high and low;" (lines 301-302). The Green Knight begins to mock the court; and then boldly, King Arthur accepts his challenge. Sir Gawain realizes that this should not be the king's responsibility for there are others present worthy of the challenge including him. Symbolically, this scene can be seen as a Christian standing up for what he believes in. Gawain says, "I am the weakest, well I know, and of wit feeblest;/ And the loss of my life would be least of any; (354-355). Here, Gawain humbles himself before his lord, just as a Christian should in prayer to God. Sir Gawain stands up for he believes that his uncle should not take on the Green Knight while so many others, as mentioned earlier, are able. Gawain is successful by not only standing for what he believes in but also in defeating the Green Knight. The Green Knight plays the role of the tempter in this scene. He first tempts the court, but is defeated. Sir Gawain overcomes his first trial.

The year passes and Sir Gawain sets off to find the Green Chapel, home of the Green Knight. On his quest God protects him. Praying faithfully as weather begins to worsen in the winter months, he is revealed a castle in the woods. Once at the castle he faces his next trial, a trial of staying true to a future mate. The three hunts that take place parallel the three times Gawain is tempted by the lady of the castle. On the first hunt Bertilak and his servants slay a deer. The deer symbolizes how Gawain reacts to Bertilak's wife on their first confrontation. The deer is an animal that has to be crept up on to kill, but is easily slain for it is ignorant to the presence of a hunter. Gawain pretends that he is asleep and acts ignorant of the presence of the huntress, Bertilak's wife. In doing so, Gawain show his unwillingness to be tempted. He is preyed upon and faces his temptation, but overcomes this first trial while at Bertilak's castle. The next hunt is one for a boar. The boar is an animal that, when hunted, can be fierce in retaliation against being disturbed. So when the lady comes the second day to tempt Gawain, he immediately greets her. The author writes, "Gawain thought it good to greet her at once,"

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