Presentation on theme: "Unpacking Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Symbolism PENTANGLE ACTIVITY."— Presentation transcript:
Unpacking Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Symbolism PENTANGLE ACTIVITY
Why the Green Knight? In 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.
Draw a star.
What 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.
Turn to page 76 of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Read lines
Gawain’s Shield In 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.
In medieval symbology, red signifies humility as the blood of Christ Gold signifies perfection.
Gawain 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. 1
Gawain 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. 2
Gawain 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
The Jerusalem Cross 1.The wounds in the hands. 2.The wounds in the feet. 3.The wound in the side of Christ
Gawain 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
1. the Annunciation 2. the Nativity 3. the Resurrection 4. the Ascension 5. the Assumption The five joys of Mary are also known as The Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. They are:
Gawain 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.” 5
The five social graces which Gawain exemplifies above all others are: 1.Love 2.Friendship 3.Purity 4.Courtesy 5.Pity or Piety
Gawain faced 5 challenges 1.to voluntarily confront the Green Knight 2.to strike his blow properly 3.to keep his vow to meet the Green Knight in a year and a day. 4.to survive journey to the green chapel 5.to resist the lady’s temptations
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. More on Gawain’s fifth challenge
YOUR 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.