The Symbolism of Color in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1004 Words
Date:  2022-03-09


Sir Gawain and the green knight is a poem authored by an unidentified writer in the mid to late fourteenth epoch. The poem is a part of a medieval romantic tradition that describes the story of a young knight's journey. The poem is different than the most heroism poems and knight quests since it does not show the strengths of human. It tests the Gawain's character and his adherence to the knight's chivalry cod like love, honor, and humility. Sir Gawain and the green night have written this poem with a deeper meaning using different types of symbolism. The style is used to emphasize this stories' difference with the other written heroism poem and to demonstrate the chivalry's nature. They have used three colors to symbolize deeper meaning which will be discussed in this paper.

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The Unique Nature of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain has used color gold to represent prosperity. It represents a strong character of a sir Gawain and definite ethical fiber. The color gold is mentioned in the poem when the speaker says "when he has hasped in armor his harness was noble:/the least lace or loop was lustrous with gold/and all were arrayed on red with nails of richest gold" (Burrow, John Anthony 2019). The described armor is the one King Arthur had made for Gawain to fight the green knight. The use of defence is envisioned to echo the knight's image showing his heart of gold. The knight has a willingness to sacrifice for the more significant goods although he is young and inexperienced. It is represented as a worthy skill which separates him from the other worries. To strengthen Gawain's ideas, the hue appears when the narrator says that they gave Sir Gawain the armour of brilliant rules with the pentangle shape in clean gold coloring. Colour gold represented the young man who explains that the aristocrat and the rich color have clean worth. This makes sir Gawain qualify for the green knight character since he has an expensive characteristic that does not match the one in King Arthur court.

The poem has used the color red to exemplify ardor of the knight. It motivates some of his activities. The crimson color in the work is represented when the narrator says "The fair head fell from the neck, struck the floor, / and people spurned it as it rolled around, / blood spurted from the body, bright against green "(37). Storyteller depicts the sir Gawain cut the green knight head. The hero is shown to make a rash decision which is one of his minor flaws. He has a strong loyalty to the monarchy which encourages him to defend the honor of King Arthur. It is represented by the scarlet blood that comes out of the world as a green knight. The author also uses a red color in the poem when he mentions that the maiden gave him a rich ring wrought in red. These were gifts given to Sir Gawain as a token of the matron's affection. He had a passion for living which made him fall for the lady proposal of helping him to cheat in his quest which shows how he betrayed the principles he lived.

Colour green is mostly used in the poem as a symbolism for the role of nature in humanity. It is mentioned when the narrator says that the knight appeared when al his clothes and horse were in color green. It makes he appear supernatural since green also represents death and devil. The color green also represented rebirth, fertility, and nature (Wikipedia). In tradition, it has also represented the color of envy which Sir Gawain is the center of as shown as the poem starts (Tolkien, et al 1967). Sir Gawain wants the court to envy him for his bravery. It also symbolized love and lust. Green together with gold represented the youth's passing symbol which is shown in the green knight and his girdle. The color green used in the poem may also talk about the Celtic who was a God of productiveness with a figure as a green giant. In the poem, the green chapel is described to be full of death where the narrator says the chapel is overgrown with grass representing life and nature.


In conclusion, Sir Gawain and the green knight poem is considered to have successfully made deviate symbolism to the definition of the society and knight character. The colors used in the poem of Sir Gawain and the green knight represents passion, prosperity and the natural world. The use of gold constitutes Gawain's rich moral standards makes this poem different from the others. The use of scarlet shows the way strong passion can result in either success or failure. The poet uses color emerald to symbolize the work of nature in the life of a human being. By using these colors, sir Gawain expresses ubiquitous veracities about humanity and how important it is to live freely.

Works Cited

Anonymous. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Translated by Bernard O'Donoghue. New York: Penguin Books. 2007

Burrow, John Anthony. A reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Routledge, 2019.

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel, Eric Valentine Gordon, and Norman Davis, eds. Sir Gawain and the green knight. Oxford University Press, 1967.

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The Symbolism of Color in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Essay. (2022, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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