The Color Green In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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The color green has appeared in many different works over the years, and has been said to symbolize everything from nature to death to the devil. One of the most prominent works to feature the color green is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the classic tale of a knight whose honor and self-control in the face of temptation is tested when a mysterious challenger arrives in King Arthur’s court. The poem has been upheld as a purely Christian poem that enforces Christian ideals of chivalry and honor. The meaning of the ending of the poem, however, has long been in debate. The reveal of the true identity of the Green Knight and Sir Gawain’s decision to wear the green girdle as a badge of shame have split scholars on the meaning for decades. However, I surmise that the poem can be best understood by viewing the Green Knight as an incarnation of God, with his complex morality being explained by the similarly complex nature of the symbolism of the color green. Simply put, the meaning of the color of the Green Knight is not static throughout the poem, but it’s meaning is fluid depending on the scene, with the color overall being used as a sign of bad luck.

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