Magic and Christianity in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a story that comprises of the themes of Christianity and magic as they both play an important role in the story. This story is full of symbols that give a Christian perspective and how human beings are naturally weak. Some of the symbols used by the author include the tap, number three and the green belt among others.

The Green Knight who is a magical creature requires a noble Knight to do something which is almost impossible. In an attempt to do what the magical creature wants, the knight encounters the temptations from a lovely lady.

However, the Knight who is named Gawain is skillful, courageous and portrays the courtesy of a chivalry to deal with the lady. This essay looks at how Christianity and magic influences the actions of the characters in the story.

Body of Essay

The story uses the tapping of Gawain symbolically to symbolize the punishment meted on him for failing to surrender the earnings. The green knight knows why Gawain is reluctant to give the green belt to the lovely lady although Gawain is scared of the penance. This story is a reflection of the biblical actions of confession and forgiveness.

This aspect of Christianity explains the action of Gawain confessing that the cut has made him a coward after the Green knight explains why he was tapped. The biblical concept of forgiveness is also exhibited and drives the action of the green Knight. After Gawain confesses his sins, the green Knight forgives him.

The green knight eventually gave the belt to Gawain so that he will not forget that they at some point met. All this while, Gawain never knew the name of the Green Knight and that is when he decided to ask him his name. In Christianity, the consumption of the fruit they had been told not to consume is what opened Adam and Eve to their nakedness.

This led them into a lot of shame that prompted them to ask why they were naked. This Christian concept is evident in this story since it is only after Gawain experiences the shame of being tapped that he asks The Green Knight his name.

Christianity uses the cross to symbolize the sinful nature of human beings that caused Jesus to die to save mankind. It reminds Christians that Jesus died for them. This concept influences the actions of King Arthur after hearing the story of Gawain. The king orders all the women serving in the court to wear green belts as symbols of their sins.

This story is full of many magical instances. For instance, the people at the court of King Arthur think that the Green Knight is a magical creature when he makes his appearance there. He is green in his entirety. To prove the magic, he picks his cut off head and speaks with it making everybody believe the magic.

Another instance of magic is evident when Morgan le Fay who is a sorceress enchants Bertilak who is normal and transforms him to become the Green Knight with the aim of terrifying the queen of Arthur and putting the knights to test. Magic is also evident when we are informed that even the birth of King Arthur was as a result of his father being deceived by his mother.

The magical incidents evident in this story influence the actions of the characters to a great extend. For instance, the fact that magic is mostly practiced by women in the story gives them the capacity to have power. Since they have the power, they are also driven by magic to abuse the power. Another impact of magic in the story is that it causes the knight to behave in a manner that earns him honor for being considered brave.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight effectively use Christianity and magic to bring out the salient concerns in the story. The author makes allusions to biblical concepts that drive most of the actions of the characters. In presenting the biblical concepts, symbols such as the green belt are used to symbolize the cross in Christianity which reminds Christians of their sins.

The author has also used magic in the story which greatly influences the characters. For example, women who are taken to practice magic more in the story wield a lot of power. Christianity and magic undoubtedly influence the characters in the story and drive their actions.

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