Presentation on theme: "Unpacking Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Symbolism"— Presentation transcript:
1Unpacking Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Symbolism PENTANGLE ACTIVITY
2In medieval England, the “Green Man” was a pagan representation of nature. The “Green Man” was not Satanic, but did symbolize the nature worship that characterized pre- Christian tribal paganism.The “Green Man” is not evil, but is also not Christian. A battle between any of Arthur’s knights and any creature reminiscent of Britain’s pagan past is, by extension, a battle between “good” and “evil” – or between the Christian piety of Arthur’s knights and their tribal, non-Christian predecessors.Why the Green Knight?
4What is a pentangle?A pentangle (known more commonly as a pentagram) is the shape of a five-pointed star drawn with five straight strokes. This means that the pentangle is infinity. It is also called the “endless knot.”The figure of the five-point star much always stay upright, with the topmost triangle point to heaven. The five points are symbolic of the five wounds of Christ.If the figure is reversed, perversion and evil will result. It can be the symbol of black magic.
5Turn to page 76 of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Read lines 618-665.
6Gawain’s ShieldIn the poem, Gawain’s shield is very clearly described as a golden pentangle on a field of red. The pentangle, the poem goes on to tell us, represents Gawain’s Five Fifths.
8In medieval symbology, red signifies humility as the blood of Christ Gold signifies perfection.
91Gawain was said to possess five qualities – one for each of the pentangle’s points – wherein he far excelled all other knights.The first of these “Five Fifths” was his faultlessness in his five senses.
102Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights. The next (second) of these “Five Fifths” was his faultlessness in his five fingers.
11Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights. The next (third) of these “Five Fifths” was the strength Gawain drew from his devotion to the “five wounds of Christ.”3
12The Jerusalem Cross The wounds in the hands. The wounds in the feet. The wound in the side of Christ
13Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights. The next (fourth) of these “Five Fifths” was the strength Gawain drew from his devotion to the “five joys of Mary.”4
14The five joys of Mary are also known as The Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. They are: the Annunciationthe Nativitythe Resurrectionthe Ascensionthe Assumption1. The first joy, as I you tell, With Mary met Saint Gabriel. "Hail, Mary, I greet thee well With Father, Son and Holy Ghost."2. The second joy, in good fay, Was on Christmas Day; Born He was of a may With Father, Son and Holy Ghost.3. The third joy, withouten strife, That blissful Birth was full rife, When He rose fro death to life, With Father, Son and Holy Ghost.4. The fourth joy, in good fay, Was upon Hallowed Thursday, He rose to heaven in rich array, With Father, Son and Holy Ghost.5. The fifth joy, withouten dene,1 In heaven He crowned His mother clean, That was well with the eye a-seen,2 With Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
155Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights. The last of these “Five Fifths” was Gawain’s well-known practice of the “five social graces.”
16The five social graces which Gawain exemplifies above all others are: LoveFriendshipPurityCourtesyPity or Piety
17Gawain faced 5 challenges to voluntarily confront the Green Knightto strike his blow properlyto keep his vow to meet the Green Knight in a year and a day.to survive journey to the green chapelto resist the lady’s temptations
18More on Gawain’s fifth challenge The FIFTH TEST is the temptations and the three gifts; it tests especially the fifth point of the pentangle, the social virtues. Gawain falls: his acceptance of the girdle is not a fault; his hiding of it is a potential fault; his actual withholding of it from Bertilak is his fall. Had he given it back to the lady, he would have erased his potential fault. The real fault, from Gawain's point of view, is that the reality of his own mortality induces him to break the endless knot. Thus two effects of original sin are reasserted: cowardice (bodily mortality) and covetousness (willful cupidity). His nature as a man is asserting itself against his nature as a knight.
19YOUR TASK: Pentangle Activity You are to create a concrete pentangle with your understanding of the symbolism of the pentangle. Incorporate the symbolism of the Five Fifths that make the pentangle meaningful to Sir Gawain.You will present your pentangle to the class.This assignment is worth 50 points. ;)It is due on Monday.