The Song of Roland

by

Anonymous

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Gloves Symbol Analysis

Gloves Symbol Icon

In the poem’s medieval context, giving a token such as a glove symbolizes the delegation of authority for the giver, and the acceptance of a task for the receiver. In the poem, gloves feature most prominently. For example, Charlemayn bestows his glove on Ganelon when he sends Ganelon to Saragossa as an envoy—but when Ganelon drops the glove in the dust, the poet frames the moment as a symbolic indication that Ganelon cannot be trusted with the authority that’s been invested in him. When Roland dies on the battlefield, he extends his gloved hand heavenward as though indicating that he has now fulfilled his duty to God. When Pinabel vows to fight Thierry on Ganelon’s behalf, he hands Charlemayn his glove as a sign of this challenge. For the knights in the poem, gloves represent taking on responsibility entrusted by authority figures.

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Gloves Symbol Timeline in The Song of Roland

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gloves appears in The Song of Roland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Laisses 16–31
The Ideal King Theme Icon
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
...spitefully singled him out, but that he will obey Charlemayn’s orders. Charlemayn duly bestows “the glove and wand” upon Ganelon, chiding his anger. But before Ganelon can accept the glove, it... (full context)
Laisses 53–78
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
...a token of this task, promising he won’t let it slip, as Ganelon did the glove. Though Charlemayn sheds tears, he grants the bow, at Naimon’s urging. At first, Charlemayn offers... (full context)
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
...the privilege of striking the first blow at Roland, and Marsilion grants this, giving his glove as a pledge. He also gathers twelve Champions to join him in opposing Charlemayn’s Twelve... (full context)
Laisses 168–186
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
...at the last.” He begs for God’s mercy on his sins and extends his right-hand glove toward heaven. Angels descend to him. As he waits for death, Roland thinks about the... (full context)
Laisses 187–202
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
...submits. He sends two envoys, Clarifant and Clarien, to give Marsilion this news, carrying a glove and wand in token. (full context)
Christianity vs. Paganism Theme Icon
The Ideal King Theme Icon
When Baligant enters, Marsile has two aides help him sit upright, and he offers his glove to Baligant to symbolize granting him his whole kingdom. Baligant accepts the glove and leaves... (full context)
Laisses 265–291
Loyalty, Honor, and Chivalry Theme Icon
Treachery vs. Chivalry Theme Icon
...If anyone disputes this, Thierry is ready to fight them. Pinabel then gives Charlemayn his glove and vows to fight Thierry. Thierry gives his glove as well, and the two men... (full context)