Pentangle in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a symbol of pure and indefinite truth. It represents five groups of characteristics made up of five attributes each. They are the perfect senses, the unfailing fingers, the five Christ’s wounds, the five joys, and the five true chivalry features.
The first two aspects encompassed by the meaning of pentangle are related to a person’s physical features. One of them is the five perfect senses of Sir Gawain. The ability to rely on the senses is required for a knight to be victorious in a battle. Besides, it demonstrates his ties to the real situation and willingness to react based on the occurring events. The unfailing fingers support this as a sign of outstanding strength and agility. It also shows the courage of a knight often seen as the “hands of God.”
The physical aspects are supplemented by the religious connections, which constitute the next two pentangle’s symbolism domains. The third group refers to the five wounds that Jesus Christ experienced during his Crucifixion. This shows that true chivalry implies a willingness to suffer and die for the right cause. Then, the five joys of Mary serve as a source of strength and protection for a knight. They are:
This list defines the correct goals for a person to pursue to make his life honorable and valuable.
Finally, the last point of the pentangle refers to a group of attributes constituting the code of conduct of Sir Gawain. They include:
- being generous
- demonstrating true fellowship
- having a pure mind
- enjoying good manners
- exerting compassion.
Adhering to them, Sir Gawain embodies all the features that the pentangle represents. Therefore, it becomes both the source of power and the guide showing how to stay true and loyal to the good cause.