From Where Do You Come?: Complexity, Theology, and Paradox in the Green Knight
PublisherMonroe Community College
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AbstractWith axe in one hand, holly in the other, all clothes green accented with gold, the Green Knight enters King Arthur's court. With an image of peace contrasted with an image of war and an image of mankind contrasted with an image of nature, the anonymous author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight begins to build the complex antagonist. Throughout the poem, images and symbolic actions yielding contradicting associations appear in close proximity, leaving the audience with a complex symbolic framework. By constructing the contrasting images within a unified form through the Green Knight and his true identity Bercilak, and by placing that character at the spiritual nexus of the poem, the enigmatic journey of Sir Gawain becomes clearer. For Gawain to attain the full realization of his trials, the Green Knight must enact the Christian god and Satan simultaneously.
- Scholars' Day Review