On drawn between Gawain as Christian man and

On the inside of the shield is the additional symbol of Mary. Thus, the essentially secular object, now governed by the image of the Virgin, becomes a spiritual symbol an emblem of the knight’s inner moral perfection. Similarly, the pentangle device which appears on the front of the shield is governed by the Virgin . Consequenly, so long as Gawain bears the Virgin-shield, he and his pentangle emblem are drawn to uphold clannesse. However, once Gawain has laid aside the Virgin-shield influence by his acceptance of the girdle, both he and his pentangle have come under a baser influence. The girdle, which is a worldly object, is emblematic of Gawain’s moral weakness. The pentangle device which appears on his coat of arms is covered by the girdle, symbolizing Gawain’s submission to his human weakness. A parallel is finely drawn between Gawain as Christian man and the pentangle as a symbol of Christian man. Kiteley himself is aware that there is ambiguity surrounding the pentangle symbolism: “Most Gawain scholarship which concerns itself with the pentangle . concentrates on . the moral and religious . side of the significance. I should like to consider . the ‘other’ side of the pentangle. ‘114 It is this “other’1 side of the pentangle which now warrants attention. Kiteley goes on to explain that although the pentangle was well-known as a symbol used in magic, the poet’s use of it within the poem as an emblem of Christian perfection is simply his attempt to Christianize a pagan symbol. The pentangle, which was a rare device in the Middle Ages, has as colorful a history as does Gawain.

On the inside of the shield is the additional symbol of Mary. Thus, the essentially secular object, now governed by the image of the Virgin, becomes a spiritual symbol an emblem of the knight’s inner moral perfection. Similarly, the pentangle device which appears on the front of the shield is governed by the Virgin . Consequenly, so long as Gawain bears the Virgin-shield, he and his pentangle emblem are drawn to uphold clannesse. However, once Gawain has laid aside the Virgin-shield influence by his acceptance of the girdle, both he and his pentangle have come under a baser influence. The girdle, which is a worldly object, is emblematic of Gawain’s moral weakness. The pentangle device which appears on his coat of arms is covered by the girdle, symbolizing Gawain’s submission to his human weakness. A parallel is finely drawn between Gawain as Christian man and the pentangle as a symbol of Christian man. Kiteley himself is aware that there is ambiguity surrounding the pentangle symbolism: “Most Gawain scholarship which concerns itself with the pentangle . concentrates on . the moral and religious . side of the significance. I should like to consider . the ‘other’ side of the pentangle. ‘114 It is this “other’1 side of the pentangle which now warrants attention. Kiteley goes on to explain that although the pentangle was well-known as a symbol used in magic, the poet’s use of it within the poem as an emblem of Christian perfection is simply his attempt to Christianize a pagan symbol. The pentangle, which was a rare device in the Middle Ages, has as colorful a history as does Gawain.

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