• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Repetition of Three. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, number symbolism is used to add meaning between different scenes in the poem.

Extracts from this document...


Laura Pandiani 4/7/2012 The Repetition of Three In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, number symbolism is used to add meaning between different scenes in the poem. Sir Gawain leaves Camelot on a quest to find the Green Knight to let him behead him, after Gawain has already beheaded the Green Knight a year and a day ago. While on his journey he can't find the Green Castle and prays that the Virgin Mary would guide him; crossing himself three times. The Green Knight, also known as Bertilak, pretends to be a host at this castle Sir Gawain finds after praying. At this point in the story, the repetition of the number three is seen often and connections between scenes can be made. Bertilak goes hunting during the day while he has Gawain stay home with his wife. After the day has passed they have to exchange with each other what they had received that day. During the story, there are three different events that each happened in three stages: the three hunts of the Bertilak, the three seductions by Bertilak's wife, and the three swings of the ax that the Green Knight took; all three relating to each other. The number three symbolism is significant because it encourages the reader to see connections between the scenes, and helps to further make sense of each scene; as the reader see's the chivalry of Sir Gawain revealed. ...read more.


It wasn't until the boar got tired that Bertilak himself was able to kill him. On the second day in the bedroom, Bertilak's wife relates to the hunting of the boar because she too was a challenge for Gawain. Her visit to Gawain is more abrupt and ferocious, even more difficult than last time. As the boar made the men fight for a while, Bertilak's wife also stayed with Gawain for a long time, "thus she tested his temper and tried many a time" (1549). This time because of her persistence she was able to get two kisses, which Gawain exchanged with Bertilak for the boar. The second ax swing by the Green Knight, Gawain was brave and he didn't move this time. But the Green Knight didn't go through with his swing. He told Gawain he was only testing him to be sure he wasn't going to move again and to "keep your [his] neck bone clear, if this [next] cut allows! (2297). Although Sir Gawain may have been brave this time; he wasn't struck by the blow of the ax. Connecting to the bedroom, he wasn't fully tested by Bertilak's wife either. She is more forward toward Gawain this time, like the aggressive boar. ...read more.


Gawain realized his life was spared and confronted the Green Knight about his wife's belt he received saying, "I confess, knight, in this place...Most dire in my misdeed" (2385-6). The Green Knight accepts his confession of having the belt and tells him he is free of fault. The Green Knight gives Gawain the belt to keep, as a reminder to him of their encounters, and Gawain leaves to return to King Arthur's Round Table in Camelot. These three different events all have three parts within them, linking one to one another. The animals in the hunt represented Bertilak's wife and how her seduction on Gawin got progressively more intense for him to resist; as the animals got trickier for Bertilak to hunt. Each swing of the ax of the Green Knight, who was actually the man hunting, represented the way Gawain responded to the three seductions by the Green Knight's wife. The Green Knight acknowledges that although Gawain didn't exchange the belt like he should have, he also resisted committing adultery with his wife, who was relentless on Gawain. This is why the Green Knight just cut him, instead of beheading him and killing him, like he had said he would a year and a day ago. But because Sir Gawain was for the most part was faithful to Bertilak, he was able to return to Camelot; demonstrating the qualities of bravery and loyalty. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Free essay

    How is morality used to promote justice in Antigone and The Visit?

    lived in (prostitution, depression and corruption being common themes in the play's time period). The situation she faces for corrupting and bribing a society into murder also influences her sense of personal justice. The four examples of Creon, Claire Zachanassian, Mayor and Ill influenced moralities illustrate how certain factors affect the morality of each and every character in both plays.

  2. Desire Under the Elms is the last of ONeils naturalistic plays written in three ...

    Seeing it as their father's way of keeping them from inheriting the farm, Simeon and Peter once again bring up the idea of leaving to California again. Scene Four It is the next day. Simeon and Peter leave the house to start work, but stop and change their minds since their father has remarried.

  1. The arras in Shakespeare. From the tiny glimpse of Shakespearean plays I have studied ...

    dramatic irony know what he does not; that in fact he is the one being played. To add further humour to his arrogance the director could have made him poorly hidden with his round stomach giving him away. Shakespeare continues this theme of comedy when Falstaff has to be hidden

  2. Female roles in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

    -?the most wonderful women to have walked in this world;/ as they pressed forward to offer their presents,/teasing with frivolous favours and forfeits,/ till those ladies who lost couldn?t help but laugh,/ and the defeated are far from forlorn? (Armitage, line52,67-70).

  1. Annotations for Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

    He lived there day and night; he even slept with the horses! Horses became less popular and automobiles were everywhere. Many were moving forward in technology, but Smith stayed in his comfort, horses. ?Ten Ton? Irwin weighed 400-540 pounds. Irwin ran a Wild West show in the summer and a racing stable in the winter.

  2. Commentary on the poem " Wife Hits Moose".

    violence of the third stanza where there is a sense of running a dine, excitement, and fear. There is a slow pace within the first stanza, which conveys a sense of mysteriousness as the moose readjust itself out of the water as it ?lifts its heavy, primordial jaw, dripping from

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work