Mar 30: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight parts 3&4

What is significant of the Green Knight’s color? Would he have a different significance if he were another color aside from green?

3 thoughts on “Mar 30: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight parts 3&4

  1. My favorite game is to imagine stories if just one thing was changed. What if he was right pink instead? Or yellow as a canary? What does the color mean exactly?

    Well, I truly believe he’s connected to nature. The color is obvious but also meaningful. He’s the grass, the treetops, the color of spring and summer and life budding. But if he were pink, he could be the color of a rose or yellow being like the sun. Green is a particularly striking color, one so ingrained in our identification with nature itself that it’s an easy connect to make. But more than that, green is the color of envy, and of fear. Those two things pervaded Gawain during his time with the Green Knight and his wife. Gawain desired to have what the Knight had, matching him during their hunts but meeting with the knight’s wife in secret. That envy then created the fear of being caught and then his fear of being killed in the fourth part of the story.

    The green represented the nature of Gawain’s being: not so perfect that he didn’t make mistakes, and like others, susceptible to envy and fear. He turned from God in favor of a token to dissuade his fear and his desire for a woman who was not his wife. So, he wore that green belt as a symbol of his mistake. He manipulated the nature as a symbol of his folly and as a warning to others not to make that mistake. The pink or yellow wouldn’t have been such an obvious connection between nature and human. The green itself is a symbol of many meanings.

  2. The green color does obviously represent the connection to nature that the Green Knight has, but it also signifies someone who is not entirely “non-human”. Green is a natural color and a familiar one, if the knight were some other color (as the intro points out) he would be far more foreign and “unnatural”. Medieval people who lived much closer with nature than we do, might have seen the color as a signal of both otherness and familiarity, making him a more sympathetic character. The greenness provides an obvious signifier of the supernatural while also having very “natural” implications. All of this together is more important for the reader’s perception of the knight than of his “purpose”

  3. I believe the Knight’s green color reflects his relationship with nature and how he is a representation of nature but I also think the color green represents Sir Gawain’s luck in the end of the poem. The Green Knight carries a bough of holly and an axe which is symbolic of his closeness with nature. He has the ability to obviously cut down bits of nature while still having the ability to maintain it. As for Gawain, he gets lucky in the end that he does not concede to the woman’s advances. The green also may represent lust seen throughout the poem through the wife and the longing of Gawain until he realizes his need to maintain his chivalry.

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