Medieval literature is unique in its own time period set between the Antiquity and the Renaissance. While all three are equally important and could all be studied extensively, literature written in the medieval period has certain characteristics of fantasy, as well as combining of cultures, that create an assemblage of writings exclusively noted for its era. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an example of this unique literature. Many cases of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight illustrating its author and its society can be identified throughout the story. These examples are all unique to the culture which the author uses in distinct ways.
Even though the Sir Arthur and the knights theme was becoming outdated, the anonymous author of the Green Knight, the "Pearl" Poet, creates a story using the Material of Britain cycle that changes the audience's mind. The author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight poem being undistinguished reveals a segment of the society during that time-authors were not important. The tales were the main focus of the work, not praises for a job well done. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight show an excellent example of the education involved during the medieval period. Even though the dark ages controlled the first half the medieval time, authors like the "Pearl" Poet were still able to create stories that use plots, themes, and alliteration throughout the whole story even after such a difficult time for literature. This piece has been thought of by some as the best example of the Medieval Romance genre. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is known best for being in the Romance genre because of the author's use of the freedom in fiction writing. Romance literature was known for the unique, lengthy, and paranormal details. All three of these attributes are shown throughout the Gawain poem. When the narrator speaks of the Green Knight, "Great wonder grew in hall / At his hue most strange to see, / For man and gear and all / Were green as green could be," he exemplifies all three features of the details in this story. The "Pearl" Poet also shows the society when using the Celtic culture along with mixing cultures to create a heritage bond while also creating a story that everyone can enjoy. Using these two plots, Celtic and universal, the author provides a glimpse into the society during this medieval age. Another instance of combining of cultures specifically from the story is when the king takes the Green Knight's challenge first. This is comes out of loyalty from the Germanic culture when the leader steps forward as a symbol of strength.
Religion being shown throughout the story is also hinting at the society of that time period. Quotes like "noble knights known under Christ," and "chanting in the chapel," lead the audience to believe that religion was very important during that time. The symbolism of the Pentangle also represents the Christian influence on the society when Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written. Another example of religion in the story is the symbolism of the Green Knight showing mercy to Sir Gawain. It may be used as a symbol of us as Sir Gawain and God as the Green Knight. Sir Gawain has imperfection just like us. The Green Knight spared Sir Gawain's life just like Christ forgave us of sin and spared ours. Religion is also evident when Sir Gawain prays for help and then sees the castle. It is hinting that good benefits come from praying.
During the time of King Arthur, the knights, and the round table chivalry was a trait respected by all. This same trait is displayed throughout Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Chivalry is exemplified when Sir Gawain steps up to take the challenge and when the Green Knight spares Sir Gawain's life at the end of the story. Unity is also a characteristic of high value in the medieval times. Unity is represented in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight on different occasions. One instance is when Sir Gawain stands up and takes the Green Knight's challenge after King Arthur does. He realizes his death would have a much lesser affect on Camelot than if King Arthur were to die. Sir Gawain stands up and says to Arthur, "The loss of my life would be least of any," as a way to show unity and honor to his country and his king. Another example of unity is when the knights stand with Sir Gawain and wear girdles as a sign of unity and support in Sir Gawain no matter his mistakes.
In many instances a color is not used to characterize anything more than a small detail in a story; however, in this particular story it is used as a representation of a heritage of the Celtics. In the Celtic culture, green represents nature. Because green represents nature, it also represents God, life, and the supernatural. The anonymous author uses green to establish a sense of fear of the Green Knight by carrying holly and by just being the Green Knight in the people at the celebration and the readers. The holly was used to gain the audience's attention and concentrate on the Green Knight while he spoke because holly held great importance to the Celtics. It was green during the winter which brought color to the earth as well as the long lasting color green it holds after it is taken from the plant.
Many instances of the author and the society of a certain culture show in the literature of that time period. The Medieval period and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is no exception to this statement. Many examples are provided like the structure of the story, the importance of religion, and the symbolism of colors that prove the time period in which Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written. The society and author are represented throughout Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.