Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gawain's Pentangle

• The poet who penned Sir Gawain and the Green Knight spent a substantial amount of time on the armor and most specifically the shield of Sir Gawain. On the shield was a five-pointed star that represented the Pentangle, a list of things he had to assist him on his quest. He had religion in the five joys of Mary and the five wounds of Christ. He had his natural gifts that all men possess with the five senses and his five fingers. The last point on the Pentangle represented the five virtues: generosity, chivalry, chastity, courtesy, and piety.
• When he reaches the Castle of Sir Bercilak de Hautdesert, he abandons his religion until he feels guilty for keeping the girdle. Also he lets down his guard and lays around for the better part of his stay, showing that his senses are not as keen and his hand is not at work to promote good. This opens up his five virtues to intense scrutiny. Two of his virtues are pitted against each other in the form of his host’s wife. She requires him to be courteous to her which would require giving into her will, but this jeopardizes his chastity.

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