What is the hidden symbol for the number five in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"?
The point in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight at which the number five is most clearly seen symbolized is when Gawain is given his shield that is painted with a golden pentangle. This gifting occurs at the beginning of part 2, just after the Green Knight has challenged Arthur's knights to his beheading game, and Gawain volunteers and receives this shield in preparation for his journey to search for the Green Knight.
On a basic level, the number five is meant to be seen as a representation of ideal knighthood. Stanzas 27–28 of part 2 elucidate that not only does the pentangle represent a "five" with its five points but also that each point represents its own set of "fives." Since the poet tells the reader twice in those two stanzas that the pentangle "is a figure that has five points, / and each line overlaps and locks with another, / and everywhere it is endless," the reader should realize that each of the individual symbols is meant to have ultimate unity.
The five senses of taste,...
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