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What Does the Fox Symbolize in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

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In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the fox appears as a symbol of cunning. Like a fox, Gawain uses all the possible trickery to escape the Green Knight’s ax and save his life. Lady Bertilak also behaves like a fox and changes her seduction tactics.

Detailed answer:

Bertilak and Gawain make an agreement that the lord will give Gawain everything he hunts during the day. In return, the knight will bring him everything he somehow gets that day. On the third day, Lady Bertilak gives Gawain three kisses and a green belt. It will serve as a talisman that will safeguard him from any harm. In the evening, Gawain returns only three kisses in exchange for the fox, but he keeps the belt.

The poem is based on Gawain’s test of faithfulness and obedience to knightly rules. It shows temptations, typical for medieval literature, where a knight undergoes a series of tests. Throughout, he offers one or another virtue. Gawain’s life depends on the success of his trials. He resorts to all sorts of cunning tricks to save his life and get invulnerability.

He thought that he was lucky enough to receive a belt. It was no coincidence to get this talisman on the eve of the next day’s terrible day. He gets a fox, but he does not give a green belt to Bertilak in return, thus using this trick to avoid a horrible death. Here, the fox symbolizes not only deceit and cunning but also a quick wit and cleverness.

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IvyPanda. (2021, January 25). What Does the Fox Symbolize in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-fox-symbolize-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/

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"What Does the Fox Symbolize in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" IvyPanda, 25 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-fox-symbolize-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.

1. IvyPanda. "What Does the Fox Symbolize in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" January 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-fox-symbolize-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.


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IvyPanda. "What Does the Fox Symbolize in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" January 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-fox-symbolize-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "What Does the Fox Symbolize in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?" January 25, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-fox-symbolize-in-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'What Does the Fox Symbolize in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'. 25 January.

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