Colors are very important markers in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
. When the figure of the Green Knight
first intrudes upon Arthur
’s court, his green complexion immediately marks him as a supernatural character, and his magical ability to survive beheading thus seems to somehow come from or be connected to his greenness. But green also is a traditional reminder of the natural
world. As the poet describes the seasons, the weather, and images of hunting, the color green reappears as a symbol of nature, unbound by the rules of the court but with its own order of death and regeneration, predator and prey. With this double meaning of green as a symbol of both the supernatural and the natural in place, the poet plants a lot of green symbols into the plot. These symbols can be read in various ways over the course of the poem. Like the green girdle that Bertilak’s wife
gives to Gawain
, which at first represents protection from danger but comes to stand for Gawain’s failure. There’s also the Green Chapel, where the climax of Gawain’s moral journey takes place, and is the meeting place of the supernatural, religious, and natural forces that impose on Gawain.