Sir Gawain Religion Features Prominently Essay

Pages: 3 (1006 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Gawain's ability to remain chaste is testimony to his Christian faith and morality. Gawain's Christianity is underscored in his incessant prayers, and in the fact that his prayers seem to be "answered" at the very time he needs it, when he is seeking the Green Knight. Gawain reveals Christian sentiments in his attitudes toward sin and repentance.

At the same time, Gawain does retain some allegiance and respect for the old religions that Christianity supplanted in English territories, such as the "pentangle" and the "endless knot" motif, which were derived from pre-Christian and Gaelic cultures. "The five pointed star dressed the front of his shield and the arm of his coat, and was therefore evident that he held high regard for its symbolism and meaning," ("Religion Among the Laity," n.d.). However, the pentangle was appropriated by Christians and taken to signify arbitrarily such things as the number of wounds that Christ had, and Mary's joys. The fact that the pentangle is rendered in an "endless knot" fashion also was appropriated to signify eternal life and eternal love of Christ. At this juncture, the description of the shield and its symbolism also links to the knight's code of ethics, which has Christian undertones.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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The fact that Gawain and the Green Knight do not have a traditional face-off but rather, a friendly game, shows that Christianity was being marketed to pagans as something that could blend in well and harmoniously with the indigenous faiths. Mary and the Old Hag/Goddesses could coexist side by side. Likewise, Jesus and the Green Man also could coexist. Gawain is made analogous to a Christ figure in his willing resistance of a woman's sexual wiles, and also in his sacrifice to the hag. His little lie about the garter reveals Gawain's humanness, and his ability to atone for sins. As Arkin puts it, for Gawain, "religion and chivalry…are equivalent, all intertwined and interdependent, none more important the other." Gawain's commitment to the knightly code of honor and ethics, which binds him to return to the spot agreed upon with the Green Knight, is in perfect accord with his Christian beliefs. Gawain does not forcibly convert Bertilak and his wife. Gawain and the Green Knight are at a perfect equal standing and near partnership. Christianity and paganism coexist in the ideal formula for colonizing and subjugating the Celtic peoples. Morgan le Fey's magic, and Bertilak's wife, both represent the strong female power in the old religion. These two women are the ideal foils for the perceived innocence and conflicted sexuality of Mother of Mary, who is referred to as the Queen of Heaven in the text. With Christianity came the patriarchal social order represented by Gawain.


Arkin, L. (1995). The role of women in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Retrieved online:

"Religion Among the Laity." Retrieved online:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Retrieved online: [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Sir Gawain Religion Features Prominently" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Sir Gawain Religion Features Prominently.  (2013, May 7).  Retrieved January 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Sir Gawain Religion Features Prominently."  7 May 2013.  Web.  26 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Sir Gawain Religion Features Prominently."  May 7, 2013.  Accessed January 26, 2021.