Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Symbolism: The Color Green
The mysterious, gigantic man who interrupts the feast at Arthur’s court on New Year’s Eve is green from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. We can use other things we know about the Green Knight to figure out what the symbolism of the color might be. For example, instead of carrying traditional knightly weapons, he carries a holly branch in one hand and a large axe in the other. Both of these objects connect him to nature, particularly the woods. The Green Knight’s test of Gawain makes him very aware of his strong survival instinct, something he shares with animals. And the place where Gawain must meet the Green Knight – the Green Chapel – is one of the most wild, natural places in the poem. Based on these clues, we’re pretty sure that the color green represents nature. People, places, and things in the poem that are green somehow have a significant connection to nature.