Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Questions and Answers
by Pearl-Poet

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What would be the overall theme or lesson to be learned from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

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"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is part of a larger manuscript of poets by the so-called "Pearl Poet," and, viewed together, we can appreciate how the poet sought to convey themes of purity and virtue through the poems he wrote. Gawain, in particular, is an avatar of virtue: the poet uses the symbol of Gawain's pentacle to visually represent how he conforms to the knightly ideal. Gawain shows generosity, fellowship, chastity, courtesy, and charity, as well as devotion to Christ.

Perhaps the overriding "point" or moral of the poem, then, is that we can still seek to emulate a person who, like Gawain, is renowned for his virtues yet occasionally stumbles on...

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mkcapen1 | Student

Chivalry and law are the themes which project through-out the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  The lesson is that one must stay true to ones self.  Sir Gawain volunteers to challenge the Green Knight  in defense of his king and Lady.  He has taken a challenge that he is destined to have to follow through.  Being a Knight means that ones word is as good as the act being done.

Sir Gwain's word is tested by the lady at the hosts house where he stays when he is going to find the Green Knight where he will honor his challenge.  He knows that he is dealing with something supernatural and feels that he needs an edge.  The hosts woman has been giving him kisses and trying to seduce him.  He agrees to accept her green girdle which he is told will protect him if he wears it into battle.  He accepts it and eventually violates his own word with the host, a quality that he feels bad about.  Knights are meant to hold true to what they say.

The Knight does not defeat Sir Gawain an he defeats death.  However, he has violated his word so he must now ear the green girdle as a symbol of his wrong doing and as a reminder so he will not do it again.  It is a symbol of his weakness.