The Green Knight Badge

The Green Knight plays an important role in the story of Sir Gawain and, you guessed it, The Green Knight. He is a giant figure wearing ornate green clothing who rides on an enormous green horse. He interrupts the New Year's celebrations in Camelot, bringing a challenge or game, as he calls it. Whoever takes a swing at his head with the huge axe he carries, will have to meet him at the Green Chapel in a year's time, to receive the same blow from the Green Knight himself. Gawain accepts the challenge, chopping off the large man’s head. Despite this, the Green Knight is able to pick up his severed head and keep talking, proving him to be of the “Other”, a mystical being. After waiting around for a year, being angsty about having to face an axe blow to the neck, Gawain finally ends up facing the Green Knight and surviving his axe blow. Gawain had been punked, the Green Knight was Lord Bertilak all along, hiding under a spell cast by Morgan. Ultimately, the Green Knight teaches a story of knightly values and staying true to what you know is right.


The Holly Branch
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I think that the holly branch is an important part of the Green Knight's character because it symbolizes that he is not at the court to wreak havoc. Holly can symbolize protection and honor, two virtues that are important to the story. While a large man carrying a big axe might normally be threatening, the addition of holly to the Green Knight's outfit helps show the court he means no harm and that he has honor.

The Green Knight's Attire
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The Green Knight is described as being dressed in ornate green clothing, well adorned with gems and gold, much like this picture shows. His complete lack of armor show that he is not coming to Arthur's hall to fight and the quality of his clothing suggests he is very well to do. Since a strange Lord busting into a King's hall unannounced, especially unarmored, was unheard of back then, the Green Knights appearance gives more evidence that he is an "Other".


The Axe
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As one of the main players of his game, the Green Knight's axe is an important symbol in the story. It works to deliver the major plot points along with the major moral lessons of the tale. Gawain uses it to chop the GK's head off in the first Fitt, showing that he is brave enough to commit fully to such a risky game. At the end of the story, the GK only cuts Gawain lightly on the neck, sparing him to reinforce positive behavior. The axe could be seen as a symbol for the judgement of society, letting Gawain off easy since he stuck to the accepted norms.

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"Yet he had no helmet nor hauberk either, No neck-armour or plate belonging to arms, No spear and no shield to push or to strike; but in one hand he carried a holly branch That is brilliantly green when forests are bare" (203-207)

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"yet the man neither staggered nor fell a whit for all that, but sprang forward vigorously on powerful legs, And fiercely reached out to where knights were standing, Grabbed at his fine head and snatched it up quickly" (430-434)

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"He swiftly raises his weapon and brings it down straight, With the cutting edge of the blade over Gawain's bare neck; Although he struck fiercely, he hurt him no more Than to slash the back of his neck, laying open the skin." (2309-2312)