Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Questions and Answers
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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight book cover
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What colors are stressed in the story? Why?

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Even beyond its mention in the work's title, the color green is prominent in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Green Knight is all garbed in green and rides a green horse. He is closely tied to nature and the disorder it represents, in opposition to the ordered world of Camelot. The girdle given to Gawain by Lady Bertilak is green as well.

The color green takes on many meanings. As previously mentioned, it represents nature, but it can also allude to corruption. The girdle is associated with desire, since Gawain receives it from the tempting Lady Bertilak, and cowardice, since Gawain takes it to spare his own life in the culmination of the contest between himself and the Green Knight.

Gold is another significant color, often complementing green. Gold is often associated with material wealth, but in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it also signifies moral virtue. Sir Gawain's shield features a golden star on its outside, an illustration of his idealism and purity. However, gold also features on the girdle, which is made of green silk and trimmed in gold. Here, the gold takes on a more ambiguous meaning: is it meant to remind Gawain of the virtue he would be compromising should he accept the girdle? Or is it meant to be linked with the worldly treasures owned by the Bertilaks? Both could be true, since in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, color can adopt a variety of meanings.

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